In honor of Black History Month, here are some facts about Black history in America that even history buffs may not know.
The Man That Started It All
Historian Carter G. Woodson, the creator of what we presently know as Black History Month, worked passionately to establish the event in an effort to provide an education on the origins, struggles, and achievements of African-Americans in United States history. Originally, it existed as seven days of commemoration, first established in 1926 and called “Negro History Week.” Woodson penned more than a dozen books, including 1933’s Mis-Education of the Negro.
Claudette Colvin pre-dated Rosa Parks in refusing to give up her seat on public transportation
Before there was Rosa Parks fighting for desegregation on a Montgomery, Alabama bus, there was Claudette Colvin. In 1955, at just 15 years old, she stayed seated and refused to move to the back of the bus in Montgomery, Alabama. According to PBS, Colvin had previously learned about the plight of Harriet Tubman and other early activists. It’s believed she said, “It felt like Sojourner Truth was on one side pushing me down, and Harriet Tubman was on the other side of me pushing me down. I couldn’t get up.”
Black History Month is celebrated differently around the world
In the United States and Canada, we celebrate Black history in February. However, in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and the Netherlands, they honor it during the month of October. In 2014, Ireland became only the fourth country in the world to celebrate Black History Month.
Civil rights solidarity in sports has deep roots
Many years before Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem, two other athletes sent a powerful message about their unity with Black America. During the 1968 Olympic games in Mexico City, competitors Tommie Smith and John Carlos wore black gloves and gave a salute during the anthem.
Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination coincided with an icon’s birthday
It was on Maya Angelou’s birthday, April 4, 1968, that her friend, civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated. After this heinous act, Angelou stopped celebrating her birthday. However, she sent flowers to King’s wife Coretta Scott King on that date until Mrs. King passed in 2006.
Let’s Celebrate All Year Long
These fun facts walk through centuries of Black history and are just the tip of the iceberg. They’re available all year round, too, so don’t stop taking the time to listen once February’s over. And don’t limit yourself to just listening—act! Learn more about anti-racist practices, the Black Lives Matter Movement and ways to take action.