Since 1976, February has been officially designated as Black History Month, which gives us time to celebrate achievements by Black Americans and recognize their role in U.S. history. But before there was a month celebrating Black history, there was Negro History Week, conceived by pioneering historian Dr. Carter G. Woodson in 1926.
He wrote: "We should emphasize not Negro History, but the Negro in history. What we need is not a history of selected races or nations, but the history of the world void of national bias, race hate, and religious prejudice. There should be no indulgence in undue eulogy of the Negro. The case of the Negro is well taken care of when it is shown how he has far influenced the development of civilization."
Woodson chose the second week of February for the celebration because it marks the birthdays of two men who greatly influenced the Black American population: Frederick Douglass, an escaped slave who became one of the foremost black abolitionists and civil rights leaders in the nation, whose birth date was unknown but chose to celebrate his birthday on February 14th; and President Abraham Lincoln, born February 12th, who with the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation abolished slavery in America's confederate states.
In honor of Black History Month, join us each day from February 10th to the 19th as we celebrate Black Angelenos who have influenced culture, social justice, and progress in Los Angeles and, in some instances, the nation.
Portraits of Black Angelenos:
- Bridget Mason: Real estate entrepreneur and philanthropist
- Thomas Bradley: 38th mayor of Los Angeles, 1973-1993
- Jackie Robinson: Major League Baseball Player
- Etta James: Singer
- Florence Griffith-Joyner: Track and Field Athlete
- Eric Dolphy: Musician
- Octavia E. Butler: Science Fiction Writer
- Ava Duvernay: Filmmaker
- Paul Williams: Architect
- Ben Caldwell: Filmmaker and Artist
- A Los Angeles Primer
- Arrival Stories
- Block by Block
- Engaging Spaces
- Green Justice
- I Am Los Angeles