Black History was first celebrated during a week in February in 1926 that encompassed the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The response was overwhelming: Black history clubs sprang up; teachers demanded materials to instruct their pupils; and progressive whites, not simply white scholars and philanthropists, stepped forward to endorse the effort. The celebration was expanded to a month in 1976, the nation's bicentennial.
10 Inspiring Black History Month Activities for Students
Black History Month Trivia
- William Tucker, son of indentured servants from Great Britain, was the first recorded African child to be born in the colonies in 1624.
- Vermont was the first colony to ban slavery in 1777.
- In the 1770s, a Quaker named Anthony Benezet created the first school for African American children.
- Between 1810-1850, an estimated 100,000 slaves used the Underground Railroad to escape to the North.
- William Wells Brown’s novel, Clotel; or The President’s Daughter, is the first written by an African American to be published in 1853.
- Hattie McDaniel became the first Black person to win an Oscar for her supporting role in Gone With the Wind in 1940. Sidney Poitier was the first Black man to win, 24 years later, for his leading role in Lilies of the Field.
- In 1864, Rebecca Lee Crumpler graduated from the New England Female Medical College as the first Black woman to receive a medical degree in the U.S.
- Baseball legend Jackie Robinson had an older brother, Matthew “Mack” Robinson, who broke the Olympic record in 1936 in the 200-meter dash. However, he took home the silver medal because he finished behind Jesse Owens.
- Before becoming a professional musician, Chuck Berry studied to become a hairdresser and has a degree in cosmetology.
- Nat King Cole was the first African American to host a TV show when The Nat King Cole Show debuted on NBC in 1956.
- In 1973, Stevie Wonder was the first Black artist to win a Grammy for Album of the Year for Innervisions.
- Founded in 1984, the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo celebrates Black cowboys and cowgirls and is the only touring African American rodeo in the world.
- The theme song to public television’s popular children’s program, Reading Rainbow, is sung by Chaka Kahn.
- The oldest living Buffalo Soldier, Sergeant Mark Matthews, died at the age of 111 in 2005 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
- Gabby Douglas became the first Black gymnast to win the Individual All Around in the 2012 London Olympics.