Black History Month began as a week-long engagement in 1915, just 50 years after the Juneteenth Proclamation in the U.S. in 1865. During September of that year, Black History Week was conceptualized by the “father of Black history,” Harvard-educated historian Carter G. Woodson, and what is known today as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), also founded by Woodson.
In February 1926, Black History Week was formally implemented with the mission to raise awareness of African American contributions to U.S. civilization. Woodson and ASALH deliberately selected the week in February that coincided with birthdays of both Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. The weeklong observance was met with enthusiasm and inspired educational institutions and communities nationwide to organize local celebrations, establish history clubs, and host performances and lectures.
Throughout the mid-20th century, many city mayors across the U.S. issued annual proclamations celebrating Black History Week. Then, Black History Month was first proposed by Black educators and the student organization, Black United Students, at Kent State University in 1969. The first celebration of Black History Month occurred at Kent State University one year later.
By 1976, Black History Month was being celebrated all across the U.S. in educational institutions, Black cultural organizations and community centers. That same year, the Ford administration formally recognized Black History Month, and since then, every American president has designated February as Black History Month.
WSU Vancouver recognizes and celebrates Black history not only during the month of February, but every day of the year. WSU Vancouver honors the immeasurable contributions, accomplishments and excellence of Black, African and African American people, including students, staff, faculty, alumni and external partners. These contributions and accomplishments have been and continue to be enshrined in all aspects of campus infrastructure, lived experiences, U.S. and world history through leadership, innovation, science, arts, government, education, technology, medicine, entrepreneurship, community organizing and social justice, to name just a few.
WSU Vancouver also recognizes that much more is still required to fully realize a campus community and world where Black, African and African American people feel an authentic sense of belonging and unobstructed opportunity to thrive. WSU Vancouver is dedicated to building a community of equity, justice and love; and dismantling historical and systemic inequities, including racism, that reproduce the status quo of power and privilege.