Observing Black History Month in the US was first proposed by black educators and the Black United Students at Kent State University in February 1969. A year later, from January 2 to February 28, 1970, Kent State University hosted the first celebration of Black History Month.
The period aims to honor the legacies of remarkable Black Americans - from scientists and activists to authors and politicians. Celebrate them yourself by researching the following individuals and their contributions to history (in order of appearance in the slideshow below):
James Baldwin - talented writer, novelist and playwright, whose passion on the issue of racism in the US made him a powerful voice in the mid-20nth century, in the United States and, later, through much of western Europe.
Fannie Lou Hamer - A civil rights fighter who, through stories of her personal suffering in a racist culture drew attention to the struggles of African-Americans across the South (US).
Paul Robeson - Apart from being a well-known actor and singer in the late 1920s and early 1930s, Robeson used his music to share the cultures of other countries and to benefit the labour and social movements of his time.
Katherine Johnson - During her more than three decades with the US space program, she calculated and analyzed the flight paths of numerous spacecraft. Her efforts helped men set their foot on the Moon.
Lewis Latimer - He contributed to the invention of the first telephone, and invented the carbon filament, making the lightbulb more practical. He also worked with some of the greatest scientific inventors in American history, such Thomas Alva Edison.
Ericka Huggins - A human rights activist, poet, educator, and former political prisoner, Huggins has been lecturing throughout the United States and internationally for decades now. Her lectures are centered around issues relating to the physical and emotional well-being of women, children and youth, activism and more.
Thurgood Marshall - A civil rights lawyer who used the courts to fight Jim Crow laws (severe laws and customs once used to restrict Black Americans' rights) and end segregation in the U.S, he also became the nation's first Black United States Supreme Court Justice.
Claudia Jones - A talented journalist, Jones was also a Communist political activist, feminist and black nationalist in the mid-20th century.