The origins of Black History Month can be traced back to September of 1915. That year, historian Dr. Carter G. Woodson and minister Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH). The organization is dedicated to researching and promoting the achievements of not only black Americans but all prominent people of African descent.
This group would go on to sponsor a National Negro History Week in 1926. The month of February was chosen because the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass are in that month. After learning of this week dedicated to the achievements of black Americans, many communities around the country began to organize local celebrations.
The theme for Black History Month 2019 is Black Migrations, which in the U.S. follows the continuous movement of blacks from the American South to the industrialized North and beyond.
Beginning in the south during the 20th century, African American migration included relocation from farms to cities, and from the South to the Northeast and Midwest. The period quickly gave rise to a growing number of black industrial leaders and black entrepreneurs.
Along with the emergence of new music genres like ragtime, blues, and jazz, the Harlem Renaissance in New York signaled a blossoming of the visual and literary arts.
In Europe, following the two world wars, African American performers and musicians also emigrated to Paris and other European locations where American jazz became an instant hit.
Today, an influx of black immigrants from the Caribbean and Africa, when compared with other immigrant groups, are more likely to be U.S. citizens or to be proficient English speakers.
African-American millennials have reversed the historic trend in recent years with growing black populations in Atlanta, Houston and other southern communities, bringing the North-South migration full circle.