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Black History Month: Cultural Centers, Museums, Other Areas of Interest

February Black History Month

About Black History Month

As a Harvard-trained historian, Carter G. Woodson, like W. E. B. Du Bois before him, believed that truth could not be denied and that reason would prevail over prejudice. His hopes to raise awareness of African American's contributions to civilization was realized when he and the organization he founded, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), conceived and announced Negro History Week in 1925. The event was first celebrated during a week in February 1926 that encompassed the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The response was overwhelming: Black history clubs sprang up; teachers demanded materials to instruct their pupils; and progressive whites, not simply white scholars and philanthropists, stepped forward to endorse the effort.

By the time of Woodson's death in 1950, Negro History Week had become a central part of African American life and substantial progress had been made in bringing more Americans to appreciate the celebration. At mid–century, mayors of cities nationwide issued proclamations noting Negro History Week. The Black Awakening of the 1960s dramatically expanded the consciousness of African Americans about the importance of black history, and the Civil Rights movement focused Americans of all colors on the subject of the contributions of African Americans to our history and culture.

The celebration was expanded to a month in 1976, the nation's bicentennial. President Gerald R. Ford urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” That year, fifty years after the first celebration, the association held the first Black History Month. By this time, the entire nation had come to recognize the importance of Black history in the drama of the American story. Since then each American president has issued Black History Month proclamations. And the association—now the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH)—continues to promote the study of Black history all year.

(Excerpt above is posted on:, and originates from an essay by Daryl Michael Scott, Howard University, for the Association for the Study of African American Life and History)

Black Cultural Websites

Black Past:

This reference center is dedicated to providing great information to the general public on African American history and the history of more than one billion people of African ancestry around the world.  The center offers research guides to help bolster areas of interest, those include but are not limited to: '101 African American Firsts', 'Genealogy Resources', 'Major African American Office Holders since 1641', and 'STEM Innovators'.




Library of Congress African American Library Guide:

The Library of Congress has established over eighty (80) Library Guides to help guide research into African American Studies.  These guides are diverse in nature and range from topics such as primary documents in early American history, to 20th century biographies of African American activists.



Black Cultural Centers and Museums

The National Museum of African American History and Culture:

Located in Washington, DC the National Museum of African American History and Culture is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture. It was established by an Act of Congress in 2003, following decades of efforts to promote and highlight the contributions of African Americans. To date, the Museum has collected more than 40,000 artifacts and nearly 100,000 individuals have become members. The Museum opened to the public on September 24, 2016, as the 19th museum of the Smithsonian Institution.



Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture:

One of The New York Public Library’s renowned research libraries, The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, located in Harlem, NY, is a world-leading cultural institution devoted to the research, preservation, and exhibition of materials focused on African American, African Diaspora, and African experiences.


Black Culture and Identity Celebrations

Kwanzaa celebrates African-American heritage. Here’s how it came to be—and what it means today:

Kwanzaa is a weeklong secular celebration of African-American culture and heritage. Occurring each year from December 26 to January 1, Kwanzaa is observed by millions of people in the United States and around the world.

Derived from the word “first” in Swahili—Kwanzaa takes inspiration from the start of the harvest season in Africa, when the first crops are gathered. It’s a time that’s been celebrated throughout the continent for generations. During the week, families gather to give gifts, share feasts, and light candles in honor of their ancestors and their hopes for the future.

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Juneteenth is an annual celebration of the ending of slavery in the US. Learn more about why, how to celebrate:

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.

From its Galveston, Texas origin in 1865, the observance of June 19th as the African American Emancipation Day has spread across the United States and beyond.

Today Juneteenth commemorates African American freedom and emphasizes education and achievement. It is a day, a week, and in some areas, a month marked with celebrations, guest speakers, picnics and family gatherings. It is a time for reflection and rejoicing. It is a time for assessment, self-improvement and for planning the future. Its growing popularity signifies a level of maturity and dignity in America long over due. In cities across the country, people of all races, nationalities and religions are joining hands to truthfully acknowledge a period in our history that shaped and continues to influence our society today. Sensitized to the conditions and experiences of others, only then can we make significant and lasting improvements in our society.

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Gullah Geechee Festivals:

Proud of their heritage and the West African lifestyle they have preserved through the generations, South Carolina’s Gullah celebrate each year with an extraordinary display of cultural riches presented in festivals and shows held all along the coast.

Open to the public, these events offer visitors a fantastic opportunity to learn about the music, folk arts, dance, food and history of the Gullah.

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More African-American holidays, festivals, and celebrations to explore:

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