The story of Black History Month began in 1915, 50 years after slavery was abolished in the United States.
In 1915, the historian Carter Woodson and the minister Jesse Moorland started the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), a group dedicated to recognizing the achievements of black Americans.
The group declared the first National Negro History Week in 1926. They chose the second week of February because that's when Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass had their birthdays.
In the years that followed, mayors of cities across the United States began recognizing Negro History Week. By the late 1960s, thanks in part to the Civil Rights Movement, Negro History Week became Black History Month on many college campuses.
In 1976, President Gerald Ford officially recognized February as Black History Month. He called upon the public to "seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans." Black History Month is also recognized in Canada and the United Kingdom.
There is some debate about dedicating a single month to the history of one race. Morgan Freeman, an African American actor and a critic of Black History Month, said: "I don't want a black history month. Black history is American history."