Black History Month looks
to the past in remembrance
In 1915 — half a century after the 13th Amendment abolished slavery in the United States — historian Carter G. Woodson and minister Jesse E. Moorland set out to document the struggles and achievements of black Americans and other peoples of African descent. In 1926, they hosted the first national Black History Week, spurring nationwide celebrations.
The founders chose the week of Feb. 12 as Black History Week — which eventually became Black History Month in the 1960s — to honor the birthdays of President Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, who had been leaders in the fight to abolish slavery.
In 1976, Black History Month was officially recognized by President Gerald R. Ford, who stated that the celebration was important to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
Black History Month honors the past and looks to the future each year to remember this fight for freedom. Check out Texas State’s Black History Month events:
- Last Chance for Eden: Conversations about Race, Sex and Privelege, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 1-3 p.m., LBJSC 3-13.1
- A Day in the Life of Poverty, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 6:30 p.m. (Contact MSA for location details: 512.245.2278.)
- Box 13 Collective: Right to Assemble, Art exhibition opening reception, Thursday, Feb. 9, 5 p.m., JCM Gallery II
- My Family Portrait, Thursday, Feb. 9, 7 p.m., LBJSC 3-15.1
- Red’s Lounge, Friday, Feb. 10, 7 p.m., LBJSC George’s
- Texas State Desegration Black History Picnic, Saturday, Feb. 11, noon to 4 p.m., Calaboose Museum, San Marcos
- Black History Month Movie Night, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 7 p.m., LBJSC Ballroom
- “Calling All Worshippers” Gospel Fest, Saturday, Feb. 25, 6 p.m., Centennial Hall Teaching Theater
For a deeper look into Black History Month, learn about the integration of Texas State. Read more about prominent figures and events celebrated by Black History Month below.
George Washington Carver, who was believed to have been born into slavery in 1864, is known for his numerous inventions in agriculture science. He devised ways to make cheese, flour, ink, dyes, plastics, wood stains, soap, linoleum, medicinal oils and cosmetics from peanuts. (There is no record that he actually invented peanut butter, although he may have developed it in his studies.)
John Mercer Langston was the first black man to become a lawyer in 1854. He was elected to the post of Town Clerk in Brownhelm, Ohio, in 1855, making him one of the first African Americans elected to public office in America. In 1888, he became the first African American elected to Congress as a representative of Virginia. He was also the uncle of Langston Hughes, a poet in the Harlem Renaissance.
Hiram Rhodes Revels was the first African American elected to the U.S. Senate, serving as Mississippi senator from February 1870 to March 1871.
Jack Johnson, who was nicknamed the “Galveston Giant,” became the first African-American man to hold the title of World Heavyweight Champion in boxing in 1908. During his 13-year career, Johnson was said to be the “most famous and notorious African American on earth.”
In 1940, Hattie McDaniel was the first African American performer to win an Academy Award for her portrayal of a slave governess in “Gone With the Wind.”
Thurgood Marshall was the first African American appointed to the United States Supreme Court. He was appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson, and served on the Supreme Court from 1967 to 1991. He also served as the chief of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) during his time in office.
Compiled by Catherine Harper.