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Why the United States observes Black History Month in February

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Washington, Feb 14: Every February, the United States observes the Black History Month to celebrate the achievements of the African-Americans.

Why the United States observes Black History Month in February

In this tradition which is in practice since 1976, the feats of people belonging to the community are focused upon through various social platforms.

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But why is February, the second and shortest month of the year, is chosen for this?

There is a history behind this. The Black History Month had started as "Negro History Week", a label that was made popular by historian Carter G Woodson (1875-1950), who is also the founder of the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History (earlier called Association for the Study of Negro Life and History and renamed in 1973), in 1926.

One of the first scholars to study African-American history, Woodson was concerned to see many textbooks and historical documents ignored or minimised contributions made by the black personalities.

Woodson, therefore, started raising awareness of these stories in the second week of February. His association also joined him in this mission.

The reason for Woodson to choose the second week of February is that the birthdays of two famous anti-slavery personalities - Abraham Lincoln (Feb 12) and Frederick Douglass (Feb 14) fell in that week.

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This tradition gradually won popularity and soon, the occasion to observe the feats of the African-Americans stretched to cover the entire month of February.

In 1976, the then US president Gerald Ford made Black History Month official urging all to make use of the opportunity to honour the achievements of black Americans in every field of endeavour in the country's history.

Later, other countries like the UK, Canada and Ireland also started observing the special month.

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