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Black History Month: Celebrating unity through education
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Black History Month, or National African-American History Month, is an annual celebration of achievements by black Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of African-Americans in U.S. history.

The event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African-Americans. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating black history.

The story of Black History Month begins in 1915, half a century after the 13th Amendment abolished slavery in the United States. That September, Woodson, a Harvard-trained historian, and Jesse E. Moorland, a prominent minister, founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, an organization dedicated to researching and promoting achievements by black Americans and other peoples of African descent. Known today as the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History, the group sponsored a national Negro History Week in 1926, choosing the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The event inspired schools and communities nationwide to organize local celebrations, establish history clubs and host performances and lectures. Since 1976, every American president has designated February as Black History Month and endorsed a specific theme. This year’s is “Hallowed Grounds: Sites of African American Memories,” to commemorate the places that are important in African-American history.

Schools also give special attention to learning about the contributions and history of African-Americans. For the third year, Richmond Hill High School, in collaboration with Unity in the Community Inc., is recognizing Black History Month this February. The theme this year is “Civil Rights.” There are Richmond Hill historic-timeline posters, a videotape interview with people from the area and the school, and a website created by Unity in the Community providing black-history facts. The bulletin display in the hallways has pictures and posters depicting historical people and places.

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