Black History Month was first proposed by black educators and the Black United Students at Kent State University in February 1969. The first celebration of Black History Month took place at Kent State one year later, from 2/1/1970 – 2/28/1970.
Six years later Black History Month was being celebrated all across the country in educational institutions, centers of Black culture and community centers, both great and small, when President Gerald Ford recognized Black History Month, during the celebration of the United States Bicentennial. He urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history”.
History is often reduced to a handful of memorable moments and events. In Black history, those events often include courageous stories like those of The Underground Railroad and historic moments like the famous “I Have a Dream” speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. But these are only a few of the significant and important events to know and remember.
In an effort to honor this expansive and growing history, Black History Month was established by way of a weekly celebration in February known as “Negro History Week” by historian Carter G. Woodson. But just as Black history is more than a month, so too are the numerous events and figures that are often overlooked during it. What follows is a list of some of those “lesser known” moments and facts in Black history.
10 Little Known Black History Facts
- Before there was Rosa Parks, there was Claudette Colvin.
- Martin Luther King Jr. improvised the most iconic part of his “I Have a Dream Speech.”
- Inoculation was introduced to America by a slave.
- The earliest recorded protest against slavery was by the Quakers in 1688.
- Of the 12.5 million Africans shipped to the New World during the Transatlantic Slave Trade, fewer than 388,000 arrived in the United States.
- The diverse history of Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
- One in four cowboys was Black, despite the stories told in popular books and movies.
- Esther Jones was the real Betty Boop!
- The first licensed African American Female pilot was named Bessie Coleman.
- Interracial marriage in the United Sates was banned in 1664 and not overturned until 1967.