The History of Black History Month

In September of 1915, historian Carter G. Woodson and minister Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) known today as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) (History.com). This organization was “dedicated to researching and promoting achievements by black Americans and other peoples of African descent” (History.com).

In 1925 the group conceived the idea of Negro History Week, which was first celebrated in February 1926 during the week that included the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglass (February 12 and 14 respectively) (Africanamericanhistorymonth.com). The occasion prompted celebrations and events recognizing contributions of African Americans in schools and communities across the nation.

By the time Woodson passed away on April 3, 1950, celebration of Negro History Week had grown. The Black Awakening of the 1960s and the Civil Rights Movement increased our nation’s appreciation of the contributions of African Americans, and in 1976, the celebration was expanded to include the full month of February (Africanamericanhistorymonth.com). At the nation’s bicentennial celebration, President Gerald Ford called on Americans “to seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history” (Africanamericanhistory.com).

In the spirit of celebrating the contributions of African Americans, we would like to recognize a few individuals and their accomplishments:

Elijah McCoy was born in 1844 and worked as a fireman and oiler for the Michigan Central Railroad. McCoy’s examinations of the inefficiencies of oiling axles led him to invent a “lubricating cup that distributed oil evenly over the engine’s moving parts” (U.S. Department of Transportation). This invention enabled trains to run for long periods without having to stop for maintenance. McCoy patented this invention in 1872--just one of the sixty patents McCoy received during his lifetime (U.S. Department of Transportation).

George Washington Carver is estimated to have been born in 1864, though no definitive date of his birth was ever established. The first African American to earn a Bachelor of Science degree, Carver also earned a Master of Agriculture degree in 1896 (History.com “George Washington Carver). As a scientist and inventor Carver developed hundreds of products using a variety of crops including peanuts, sweet potatoes, and soybeans (History.com “George Washington Carver). Carver also introduced the idea of crop rotation to the Rural South, allowing farmers to avoid depleting the soil of nutrients and increase yields over the long term (History.com “George Washington Carver).

Born in 1942, Patricia Bath became the first African American to complete a residency in ophthalmology. In 1986, Bath invented the Laserphaco Probe for cataract treatment, becoming the first African American female doctor to receive a medical patent (Biograhpy.com “Patricia Bath”).

At Waitte’s Insurance Agency, we are proud to celebrate the wonderful diversity in our community and nation both past and present. Give us a call when you are ready to discuss your unique insurance needs.

Africanamericanhistorymonth.gov

Biography.com "Patricia Bath"

History.com "Black History Month"

History.com "George Washington Carver"

Library of Congress "African American History Month"

U.S. Department of Transportation