Black History Month can be traced back to the three weeks national celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of emancipation which took place at the Chicago Coliseum during the summer of 1915 and was sponsored by the state of Illinois. Dr. Carter G. Woodson, an alumnus of the University of Chicago, attended the fiftieth anniversary celebration and was inspired to form an organization to promote the scientific study of black life and history. On September 9th, Woodson met with A. L. Jackson and three others and formed the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH). Several years later, Woodson sent out a press release announcing Negro History Week in February of 1926. He chose February for reason of tradition and reform.
The shift from a week celebration to a month-long celebration began as early as 1940s. For example, blacks in West Virginia began to celebrate February as Negro History Month and in the mid-1960s they started celebrating Negro History Month in Chicago. By the late 1960s, as young blacks on college campuses became increasingly conscious of links with Africa, Black History Month replaced Negro History Week. In 1976, fifty years after its first celebration, the ASNLH used its influence to institutionalize the shifts from a week to a month and from Negro history to black history. Since the mid-1970s, every American president, Democratic and Republican, has issued proclamations endorsing the Association’s annual theme. This year's theme is Black Health and Wellness.
Below is a sampling of LRC books in support of Black History Month. These books are either available in the LRC or can be accessed online as eBooks through our EBSCOhost eBook Collection database subscription (login credentials are posted on Blackboard or see LRC staff).