The United States government officially recognized Black History Month in 1976, but did you know the celebration actually has its roots much earlier? In 1926 historian Carter G. Woodson, co-founder of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), declared the second week of February to be “Negro History Week.” Woodson explained his reasoning behind the creation of the week of reflection in Volume 11, No. 2 of The Journal of Negro History:
The fact is, however, that one race has not accomplished any more good than any other race, for God could not be just and at the same time make one race the inferior of the other. But if you leave it to the one to set forth his own virtues while disparaging those of others, it will not require many generations before all credit for human achievement will be ascribed to one particular stock. Such is the history taught [to] the youth today.
The week was a great success, sparking waves of interest in African American history and contributions to the American Dream. In 1969, the Black United Students organization at Kent State University proposed extending the celebration from one week to one month, adopting this in 1970. At the 1976 United States Bicentennial, President Gerald Ford officially recognized the expansion of Black History Month to the entire month of February and claimed, “In celebrating Black History Month, we can take satisfaction from this recent progress in the realization of the ideals envisioned by our Founding Fathers.”
In our neck of the woods, we turn to the Bullock Collection for ways legislators have championed the rights of African Americans. Bob Bullock, former Comptroller of Public Accounts and Lt. Governor, was an ally for the inclusivity and hiring of African Americans. Throughout his tenure as a public servant he supported redistricting to assist minorities, voluntarily implemented fair hiring practices, promoted equality in public school funding, and supported free public education for the children of undocumented workers. Bullock became well known for his support of minorities, and the Bullock Texas State History Museum continues his legacy by educating visitors on the role of African Americans in American history through their permanent and temporary exhibits. Their most recent travelling exhibit, “Purchased Lives,” discusses the impact of the American slave trade from 1808 to 1865 through oral histories and original artifacts.
As a legislative library, we are interested in the ways citizens interact with government. For a more in-depth examination on African Americans in the legislative process we recommend, the United States House of Representatives Office of History, Art, and Archives, “Black Americans in Congress,” online exhibition. http://history.house.gov/Exhibitions-and-Publications/BAIC/Black-Americans-in-Congress/
 Scott, Daryl M. “Origins of Black History Month.” Founders of Black History Month. Association for the Study of African American Life and History, 09 Aug. 2016. Web. 20 Feb. 2017. <https://asalh100.org/origins-of-black-history-month/>.
 Ford, Gerald R. “President Gerald R. Ford’s Message on the Observance of Black History Month.” Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library, 1 Feb. 2002. Web. 20 Feb. 2017. <https://fordlibrarymuseum.gov/library/speeches/760074.htm>.
 “Purchased Lives: The American Slave Trade from 1808 to 1865.” The Bullock Texas State History Museum. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2017. <http://www.thestoryoftexas.com/press/media-kits/purchased-lives>.