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Black History Month: Introduction

This research guide highlights library and non-library resources to use in completing Black History Month projects.

The History of Black History Month

Americans have recognized black history annually since 1926, first as "Negro History Week" and later as "Black History Month." What you might not know is that black history had barely begun to be studied-or even documented-when the tradition originated. Although blacks have been in America at least as far back as colonial times, it was not until the 20th century that they gained a respectable presence in the history books.



We owe the celebration of Black History Month, and more importantly, the study of black history, to Dr. Carter G. Woodson. Born to parents who were former slaves, he spent his childhood working in the Kentucky coal mines and enrolled in high school at age twenty. He graduated within two years and later went on to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard. The scholar was disturbed to find in his studies that history books largely ignored the black American population-and when blacks did figure into the picture, it was generally in ways that reflected the inferior social position they were assigned at the time.



Dr. Carter G. Woodson

Established Journal of Negro History

Woodson, always one to act on his ambitions, decided to take on the challenge of writing black Americans into the nation's history. He established the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (now called the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History) in 1915, and a year later founded the widely respected Journal of Negro History. In 1926, he launched Negro History Week as an initiative to bring national attention to the contributions of black people throughout American history.

Woodson chose the second week of February for Negro History Week because it marks the birthdays of two men who greatly influenced the black American population, Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. However, February has much more than Douglass and Lincoln to show for its significance in black American history. For example:

  • February 23, 1868:
    W. E. B. DuBois, important civil rights leader and co-founder of the NAACP, was born.
  • February 3, 1870:
    The 15th Amendment was passed, granting blacks the right to vote.
  • February 25, 1870:
    The first black U.S. senator, Hiram R. Revels (1822-1901), took his oath of office.
  • February 12, 1909:
    The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded by a group of concerned black and white citizens in New York City.
  • February 1, 1960:
    In what would become a civil-rights movement milestone, a group of black Greensboro, N.C., college students began a sit-in at a segregated Woolworth's lunch counter.
  • February 21, 1965:
    Malcolm X, the militant leader who promoted Black Nationalism, was shot to death by three Black Muslims.

Source:  Moore, Forrest.  A History of the Black Church in Tuscaloosa. Bloomington: AuthorHouse, 2009. Print.

Voices from the Days of Slavery: Podcasts from Library of Congress

The almost seven hours of recorded interviews presented here took place between 1932 and 1975 in nine Southern states. Twenty-three interviewees, born between 1823 and the early 1860s, discuss how they felt about slavery, slaveholders, coercion of slaves, their families, and freedom.

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National Archives Digital Vaults

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the nation's record keeper.  Explore numerous documents and digital images found in the interactive, online exhibit titled Digital Vaults. Search for documents, images or drawings. Collect your favorites and use these records to create a poster, movie or pathway challenge.

Martin Luther King Jr. Leads the March on Washington, "I HAVE A DREAM" August 28, 1963

Top 10 Black History Month scholarships for 2015

Black History Montage of Black Leaders, Heroes and Entertainers including Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, W.E.B. Du Bois, Booker T. Washington, Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela, George Washington Carver, Jackie Robinson, Louis Armstrong.

Nationwide - February is here again, and Black History month is being celebrated all around the country and even in some parts of the world. Although the shortest month of the year, February has been chosen as the official month of the year to pay tribute to famous African Americans who contributed to society.

But actions speak louder than words, and so many organizations and companies have launched various scholarship funds for African American and other minority students. Collectively, the scholarships give away millions in much needed college funding.

Here are the top 10 Black History month scholarships for this year:

#1 - Steve Harvey Foundation/ Coca-Cola Pay It Forward Scholarship Program: Offers scholarship awards and once-in-a-lifetime apprenticeship experiences to African American youth looking to pave the way for their futures. Deadline is in March 2015. Learn more at

#2 - "Selma" Speech and Essay Scholarship Contest: Inspired by the recent film released by Paramount Pictures, this scholarship is open to U.S. high school students ages 14-18 who are currently enrolled in a public, private or parochial high school or home study program in the United States and its territories. Deadline is in February 2015. Learn more at

#3 - 100 Black Men of America Future Leader Scholarship Program: Open to high school seniors as well as college freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors. The scholarship is based on academic achievement and community service. Deadline is in February 2015. Learn more at

#4 - Regions Riding Forward Black History Month Scholarship: Funded by Regions Bank (located in 16 states), this program awards scholarships each year to high school students and college students. Interested students may apply by writing an essay about African-Americans who have inspired them. Deadline is in February 2015. Learn more at

#5 - Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholarship: For minority high school students in the United States. In addition to a financial grant, the foundation also provides its scholars with mentoring and leadership development opportunities, and internships. Deadline is in February 2015. Learn more at

#6 - GEICO Achievement Award Program: Helps current college students who are sophomores and juniors earn scholarship money to complete their education. Eligible students must be enrolled in a business, computer science, or mathematics program. Deadline is in February 2015. Learn more at

#7 - Buick Achiever's Scholarship Program: Designed to give the financial assistance to student leaders, who can not afford to attend college. Funded by the GM Foundation, the program annually gives away 100 renewable scholarship awards and 1,000 non-renewable scholarship awards. Deadline is in February 2015. Learn more at

#8 - National Association of Black Journalists Scholarships: Offered to students interested in a career in journalism. The scholarships are for high school students and undergraduate college students who are planning to enroll or currently enrolled in college full-time and majoring in journalism. Deadline is in February 2015. Learn more at

#9 - United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Scholarships: Provides extraordinary amounts of scholarship opportunities for minority students with financial need. Scholarships include educational assistance for students attending participating Historically Black Colleges or Universities (HBCU) and other colleges as well. Deadline is in February 2015. Learn more at

#10 - Kroger "I Can Make History" Contest: Open to elementary, middle school, and high school students, grades 4th through 12th, this contest will award more than $71,000 in prizes in the categories of art, essay, music and poetry. Deadline is in February 2015. Learn more at

To search and apply for hundreds of other 2015 scholarships, visit

Source:  Top 10 Black History Month Scholarships For February 2015. (2015, January 28). Retrieved from

Daily Podcasts by the Center for Civic Education

The Center for Civic Education is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization based in California. The Center’s programs are implemented with the assistance of a network of public- and private-sector organizations and educational leaders in every state and congressional district in the country and in more than eighty other countries, many of which are emerging and advanced democracies.

60 - Second Civics
Week 1: How Have Civil Rights Movements Resulted in Fundamental Political and Social Change in the United States? (episodes adapted from We the People: The Citizen & the Constitution, Level 3, Lesson 35)
Week 2: The Six Principles of Nonviolence
Week 3 Nonviolence and the Civil Rights Movement
Week 4: Civil Rights Leaders and Foot Soldiers


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