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Black History Month

Each February, Black History Month honors the struggles and triumphs of millions of American citizens over the most devastating obstacles — slavery, prejudice, poverty — as well as their contributions to the nation’s cultural and political life.

It was the inspiration of Carter G. Woodson, above, a noted scholar and historian. February was chosen because it includes the birthdays of President Abraham Lincoln and the abolitionist Frederick Douglass.

Read more: Black History Month

Official Texts

  • Barack Obama
    Presidential Proclamation -- Martin Luther King, Jr., Federal Holiday, 2015

    A champion for justice, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., helped awaken our Nation's long-slumbering conscience and inspired a generation. Through a cacophony of division and hatred, his voice rang out, challenging America to make freedom a reality for all of God's children and prophesying a day when the discord of our Union would be transformed into a symphony of brotherhood. His clarion call echoed the promise of our founding -- that each of us are created equal -- and every day he worked to give meaning to this timeless creed.  Full Text »

  • Barack Obama
    Presidential Proclamation -- National African American History Month, 2015

    For generations, the story of American progress has been shaped by the inextinguishable beliefs that change is always possible and a brighter future lies ahead. With tremendous strength and abiding resolve, our ancestors -- some of whom were brought to this land in chains -- have woven their resilient dignity into the fabric of our Nation and taught us that we are not trapped by the mistakes of history. It was these truths that found expression as foot soldiers and Freedom Riders sat in and stood up, marched and agitated for justice and equality.  Full Text »

Books and Journals

Online Resources

African American World on National Public Radio
The Public Broadcasting Service’s African American World includes features such as timelines of African-American history, including the Civil Rights Era (1954-1971).

Amistad Research Center
Housed at Tulane University in New Orleans, the Amistad Research Center is the nation’s largest independent archives specializing in the history of African Americans and race relations in the United States.

Association of African American Museums
AAAM is a non-profit membership organization dedicated to serving the interests and needs of Black museums and cultural institutions nationwide.

Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH)
The ASALH, which supports historical research, publishes a scholarly journal and sets the theme for Black History Month each year, was founded by scholar Carter G. Woodson.

Desegregation of the Armed Forces: Chronology
The Harry S Truman Presidential Library provides extensive background materials on Truman’s decision to desegregate the U.S. Armed Forces. The collection includes 247 documents covering 1938-1953.

Federal Resources for Educational Excellence: African Americans
Teaching and learning resources from U.S. federal agencies on African Americans. Also see Slavery, U.S. Civil War and Reconstruction, and The Civil Rights Movement.

The King Center
Established in 1968 by Coretta Scott King, it is located in Atlanta’s Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site.

Library of Congress: African American History Month
In addition to African American history, this site includes links to resources at the Library of Congress on arts, veterans’ stories, research materials and digital collections.

Library of Congress: Ethnic & Multicultural History
This site from The Learning Page at the Library of Congress offers annotated links to more than 50 resources on the history of ethnic diversity in the United States.

Library of Congress: Veterans History Project
The Veterans History Project collects written and recorded histories, letters, diaries, photos, historical documents and other mementos of the nation’s veterans. African Americans at War: Fighting Two Battles tells the stories of the pioneers who found themselves in a racially segregated military and the next generation of African Americans who began to see more opportunities open up. Another Web page focuses on Buffalo Soldiers: The 92nd in Italy. The project also provides a guide to the records of all African-American veterans in the collection.

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site
This National Park Service site in Atlanta allows visitors to see King’s birth home, Ebenezer Baptist Church, and his gravesite, among other historic places. It also includes The King Center, established in 1968 by his widow Coretta Scott King.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute (King Institute at Stanford)
Founded by Stanford University historian Clayborne Carson, who in 1968 was invited by Coretta Scott King, to direct the King Papers Project, which has published several volumes of King’s papers and the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Encyclopedia. Carson is also executive director of the Morehouse College Martin Luther King Jr. Collection and the creator of The Gandhi-King Community.

Morehouse College Martin Luther King Jr. Collection
The Robert W. Woodruff Library of the Atlanta University Center serves as custodian of this 10,000-item collection, which was purchased in 2006 by the City of Atlanta (with fundraising help from Atlanta business and civic leaders) just a week before it was to be auctioned at Sotheby’s.

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
The NAACP, one of the oldest and most influential civil rights organizations in the United States, celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2009.

National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC)
The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, which was authorized by Congress in 2003, is scheduled to open in 2015. The NMAAC sponsors exhibitions with partner museums and online, and projects such as Save Our African-American Treasures and StoryCorps “Griot,” which records interviews with African-American families and individuals. The museum Web site offers an extensive resource list.

National Register of Historic Places Travel Itineraries
These online travel itineraries were created by the National Park Service and other federal agencies. See Historic Places of the Civil Rights Movement, Underground Railroad and Amistad.

United States Commission on Civil Rights
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is a bipartisan, independent, federal commission charged with the responsibility for investigating, reporting on, and making recommendations concerning, the civil rights issues that face the nation.

Voices from the Gaps: Women Artists and Writers of Color
A collaborative project of the American Studies and English Departments at the University of Minnesota, with contributions from students and scholars around the world.

The Voyages
This multisource dataset of trans-Atlantic slave voyages is the result of a project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Mellon Foundation and Emory University.

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