By Sowmya Krishnamurthy
February marks Black History Month, a month-long observation period that honors the contributions of American Americans in America, both past and present. To give some historical context, according to the Library of Congress, the annual celebration has roots as early as 1915. Historian and scholar Dr. Carter G. Woodson–known as the Father of Black History– sought out to educate the public on African American achievements, traditions and history and founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, which is now known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH).
Through this group, Dr. Woodson created the first Negro History Week in February 1926. The month of February was chosen specifically in reference to Abraham Lincoln, the president attributed to emancipating slaves, and Frederick Douglass, the famous abolitionist and orator; both Lincoln and Douglass had birthdays in February.
In 1975, President Gerald R. Ford encouraged the country to “recognize the important contribution made to our nation’s life and culture by black citizens” and in 1976, this was expanded into what we now know as Black History Month by the ASALH.
This year’s Black History Month theme or focus is “Black Women in American Culture and History.” From Harriet Tubman to Rosa Parks and Toni Morrison, this year gives special thanks to all of those women—oftentimes the unsung heroes–who heroically sacrificed and labored for us all. MTV News will celebrate Black History Month with a series of tributes and special footage honoring important cultural figures from the past, and present.