2016 National African American History Month Presidential Proclamation
February is officially recognized as National African American History Month, also known as Black History Month. This celebration of the contributions of African Americans to the American story and civilization began in February 1926 with Dr. Carter G. Woodson’s Negro History Week to coincide with the birthdays of Frederick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln. In 1976, Gerald Ford became the first U.S. President to recognize the entire month of February as Black History Month. President Ford urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishment of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
The history of African Americans can not be detailed in one month. African American history spans a distance well beyond recorded history. It traces its roots to soil beyond the shores of the United States, and began thousands of years before slavery, Black Codes, Jim Crow, Segregation and other systemic injustices. It is a history not set apart from world history. It is not just a history of overcoming, it is a history of great accomplishments in ever academic field, artistic endeavor, and athletic pursuit. It is a history that details the human condition and the story of mankind, both in triumph and in failure.
Since 1976, every U.S. President has issued a presidential proclamation officially recognizing this commemorative month. See President Barack Obama’s 2016 National African American History Presidential Proclamation HERE