Just after the turn of the 20th Century, as Carter G. Woodson was earning a Masters degree from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. from Harvard – both in history – he saw how black people were rarely included in the literature and discussions that shaped the study of American history.

In 1915, Woodson co-founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History to help promote studying black history as a discipline and celebrate the accomplishments of African Americans. As part of that effort, in 1926, Woodson and his organization launched a “Negro History Week,” choosing the second week in February, as it encompassed the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln (Feb. 12) and Frederick Douglass (Feb. 14).

The week eventually became an unofficial month, with several mayors adopting it a municipal event. In 1976, President Gerald Ford decreed Black History Month as a national observance.

As we begin Black History Month, CAIR-LA salutes the work of Mr. Woodson, as well as the accomplishments and contributions of African Americans throughout our nation’s history.