Facts about Black History are facts about the history of our country, and the struggle for African-Americans, or blacks, to gain equality and freedom.
Black History Month is a month celebrated in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom and dedicated to Black History facts and the black struggle for civil rights. No discussion of Black History facts can avoid talking about slavery.
Positive Black History facts teach us about how blacks have advanced society through invention and ingenuity. Black History facts are sometimes little known because the credit for many great works was not given to blacks due to public stigma.
10 Interesting Facts About Black History
1. Black History Started in 1619
Black History is the story of people of African descent. People from Africa were first brought to the Americas before the United States even existed. The first Africans were brought as slaves to provide forced labor in the American colonies that would become the United States. The first African slaves arrived in 1619.
2. Negro History Week Was the Start of Black History in the 1900’s
The term negro is not used today. People of African descent who live in the United States are considered African-Americans or blacks. It is only in the last 20 years or so that the term blacks has become acceptable for use.
Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History introduced Negro History Week in 1926. They set the second week of February as Negro History Week.
The goal of Negro History Week was to educate kids on the history of blacks in the United States. Woodson felt that by teaching Black History facts, black culture could be preserved.
The popularity of Negro History Week continued to grow and was adopted in more places around the country. It was nearly 50 years later that students at Kent State University proposed the week should be a month and it should be called Black History Month. The first Black History Month was celebrated in 1970.
Six years later, as part of the United States Bicentennial in 1976, Black History Month was officially established in the United States as the month of February.
3. Black History is also Observed in Canada and the United Kingdom
One of the little known Black History facts is that Black History is observed in other countries. People from Africa were taken as slaves and servants to Canada, the United Kingdom and many other countries.
As a result, Black History Month is celebrated in countries other than the United States. Black History Month was first celebrated in the United Kingdom in 1987. In the United Kingdom, Black History Month is the month of October.
Canadians first recognized Black History Month in 1995, through their House of Commons. In 2008 the Canadian Senate unanimously approved a motion to recognize February as Black History Month in Canada.
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4. This History Shouldn’t Be Limited to One Month
One of the surprising Black History facts that no one knows about is that Black History Month is controversial, despite its long history of celebration in the United States. Some critics argue that Black History shouldn’t be limited to just one month. Another criticism is that Black History is so intertwined with the history of the United States that it should not be separated.
People who advocate for Black History Month say that the lessons of equality and freedom still need to be taught to our children. Black History Month, and teaching interesting Black History facts to kids, is important to prevent further injustice in our society. Advocates also say that Black History Month is an important way to celebrate black culture in the United States.
5. Black History Begins with Slavery
The history of blacks in the United States begins with slavery. This is one of the sad facts about Black History for kids. Men, women and children were taken from their homes in Africa to be sold. White landowners in the United States used these people as labor in the agricultural economy of the early United States.
Incredible abuse and terrible crimes occurred during slavery. The harsh conditions of slavery lasted until the Civil War, when Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.
6. The Cultural Legacy of Slavery Continued with Segregation
Despite the extraordinary contributions of men like George Washington Carver, blacks were not accepted as part of society, even after they were freed from slavery.
Blacks helped lay the foundations for the newly emerging United States, and helped its fragile economy grow. The cultural legacy of slavery continued, and blacks were separated or segregated from whites in certain areas, especially in Southern States.
Segregation is one of the most troubling Black History facts, and includes the less-than-equal treatment of black soldiers. Blacks fought and died in every major war of the United States. Yet, after a war ended, blacks were treated poorly, and as if their contribution hadn’t mattered. This treatment frustrated a young soldier named Cassius Clay so much that he threw his war medals away. Clay later changed his name to Muhammad Ali and would become a symbol of black strength as a world championship boxer.
7. George Washington Carver Invented Over 400 Products, using Plants
Blacks may not have been given equal footing in society, but that did not stop African-Americans from achieving great advances. Because they were marginalized, blacks frequently occupied roles that were not given much value at the time.
Perhaps due to the contribution of blacks, we have come to value artists, inventors and athletes much more in modern society. Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington and other black musicians made the United States the birthplace of a new form of music called jazz. These geniuses were artists and musical inventors!
Elijah McCoy invented an oil drip can design that was so good, only his design was called the Real McCoy. Lewis Latimer worked in the laboratories of Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell and was instrumental in inventing the electric light. George Washington Carver, who was born a slave, went on to invent peanut butter and more than 400 products made from plants.
Jesse Owens is another important figure from Black History. Owens ran in the Olympics in Nazi Germany and showed Hitler that blacks could equal or better their white counterparts in sports. Athletes such as Owens, and baseball players such as Jackie Robinson and Hank Aaron, had two difficult roles. Firstly, they had to put up with the discrimination they felt in sports, and secondly they had to perform on the field.
Sports are an important part of Black History and there are many Black History facts relating to sports. The ending of segregation in sports pre-dated the ending of segregation in society at large, and black athletes helped to raise public awareness of civil rights.
8. Blacks Won Civil Rights Through Non-Violence
Many Black History facts relate to Martin Luther King, Jr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a great leader who followed the teachings of Mohandas Gandhi, an Indian who fought for equal rights. In India a caste-system existed which had even more rigid class and race distinctions than the society of the United States. Gandhi used non-violent protest to gain more rights for the lower classes in India.
Martin Luther King, Jr. spread this theory of non-violence through the Civil Rights Movement in the southern states. The world watched the events unfold. The 1960s were the beginning of the television era, and people all around the country and the rest of the world saw images of blacks being treated poorly while they peacefully protested.
Eventually, King and the Civil Rights Movement were successful in ending segregation and gaining more civil rights for blacks.
9. Marian Anderson Sang in Front of a Crowd of 75,000 People in 1939
Women who are black are further marginalized due to their gender. Despite this uphill struggle, many black women have made important contributions to our society.
Marian Anderson was an important singer who was the first female black artist to play at many venues. She was a symbol of black pride and elegance at a time when blacks were still struggling with segregation. Anderson was courageous in fighting discrimination and said, “Fear is a disease that eats away at logic and makes man inhuman.”
Lena Horne, Billie Holiday and Aretha Franklin did for jazz singing what their male counterparts did for jazz instrumentation. They innovated the art of singing, while keeping it accessible to young audiences.
Rosa Parks may be the most famous woman in Black History. She is a frequent subject of Black History facts and is often spoken about during Black History Month. When busses in the south were segregated, Parks refused to sit in the segregated area on a bus. She followed King’s methods of non-violent protest and became a symbol for the dignified struggle of blacks for equal rights.
10. Black History Continues Today
Black History Month continues to be celebrated, and new facts about Black History continue to come about today. Blacks have been given equal rights, but injustice still exists here in the United States and around the world.
By celebrating Black History Month in the month of February and teaching interesting Black History facts to kids, we can help preserve black culture. The history of blacks in the United States is an important part of the history of the United States. Celebrating Black History Month is also one way in which we can preserve the history and the culture of the United States.