Black History Month began in 1926 as “Negro History Week” and evolved to its current iteration when President Gerald Ford had “Black History Month” federally recognized on the 200th anniversary of the United States in 1976.
Black History Month 2015 begins February 1. Celebrate African-American contributions to U.S. history with these important quotes by black scholars and poets.
“If a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated. The American Indian left no continuous record. He did not appreciate the value of tradition; and where is he today? The Hebrew keenly appreciated the value of tradition, as is attested by the Bible itself. In spite of worldwide persecution, therefore, he is a great factor in our civilization.” – Carter G. Woodson, creator of Negro History Week, precursor to “Black History Month”
“I am America. I am the part you won’t recognize. But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me.” – Muhammad Ali, The Greatest
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
– Maya Angelou, “Still I rise,” And Still I Rise (1978)
“I have discovered in life that there are ways of getting almost anywhere you want to go, if you really want to go.” – Langston Hughes
“Racism is not an excuse to not do the best you can.” – Arthur Ashe, quoted in Sports Illustrated, July 1991
“Our nation is a rainbow—red, yellow, brown, black, and white—and we’re all precious in God’s sight.” – Jesse Jackson (1941) speech given at the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco on July 17, 1984