According to the Association for the study of African American Life and History (ASALH), February was chosen to celebrate Black History Month as it encompassed the birthdays of two figures who helped the African American community: Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, who had birthdays on the 12 and 14 respectively. February was nationally recognized as Black History Month in 1986 when Congress passed Public Law 99-244.
Prior to being officially recognized, , the month of February was an important month in the Black community. Carter G. Woodson is credited as the “Father” of Black History Month. He was only the second African American to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard University. Throughout his career as an educator, historian, and journalist, he traveled across the country celebrating Black excellence and achievements. His idea for Black History Month came in 1915 as he was traveling to Chicago to celebrate the 60th anniversary of emancipation.
He chose February, not only to create new traditions, but also to expand existing traditions representing its importance.
“Since Lincoln’s assassination in 1865, the black community, along with other Republicans, had been celebrating the fallen President’s birthday. And since the late 1890s, black communities across the country had been celebrating Douglass.”
Well aware of the pre-existing celebrations, Woodson built Negro History Week around traditional days of commemorating the black past. He was asking the public to extend their study of black history, not to create a new tradition,” states the ASALH.
Ohio Northern University has several organizations that are dedicated to the wellbeing and success of the Black community on campus, as well as the education of . The groups are Brother2Brother, Sister2Sister, and ONU’s Black Student Association (formerly known as the Union of Black Students).
The Black Student Union was formed as a result of King’s assassination, with its founding date as May 1, 1968. ONU Archives show the organization in the 1971 Yearbook with the mission statement of: “the union’s purpose is to keep any prejudice from Black students on campus and to promote a better relationship between the races on campus.” Since the founding of this organization, they have held many events to promote the education of different races and how to put aside racial differences to make ONU a better place for all students, faculty, and staff.
For Black History Month, BSU hosted a socially distanced educational seminar, called “Snack with Facts” in the library Feb. 10. Amnesty International has also been taking the month to highlight both well-known and underrecognized Black figures throughout history, ranging from Martin Luther King Jr. to Muhammad Ali to Kamala Harris.