Mission: To raise awareness of and provide the general public with a deeper understanding of African Americans' contributions to American history and culture.
Background: A collaborative project of the Library of Congress, the National Archives and Records Administration, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Gallery of Art, the National Park Service, the Smithsonian Institution, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the African American History Month portal pays tribute to the generations of African Americans who fought to achieve full citizenship in American society. According to the site, Black History Month was the brainchild of Harvard-trained historian Carter G. Woodson, one of the first scholars to devote himself to the study of African-American history. Woodson, and the organization he founded, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), first conceived of and announced plans for a week celebrating African-American history in 1925. The celebratory week debuted the following year, in February, and encompassed the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. By 1950, the year of Woodson's death, Negro History Week, as it was then called, had become a central part of African-American life. The civil rights movement and Black Awakening of the 1960s focused Americans of all color on the contributions of African Americans to American life, history, and culture, and in 1976, the nation's bicentennial, the entire month of February was declared Black History Month by then-president Gerald R. Ford, who urged Americans to "seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history." In the decades since, Americans of every stripe and color have come to recognize the important contributions of African Americans to American life, with every president since Gerald Ford issuing an African American History Month proclamation, while the original association behind the celebration — today known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) — continues to promote the study of African-American history year-round.
Outstanding Web Features: The homepage of the African American History Month portal features a slideshow of famous figures, themes, and developments in or related to African-American history, including civil rights icon Rosa Parks; the National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.; the National Park Service's commemoration of the arrival of the first enslaved African in English-occupied North America; stories from the African-American Veterans History Project; and a portal for teachers showcasing some of the other exhibitions and resources available on the site. The Exhibitions and Collections section of the site offers links to an extensive assortment of resources focused on African Americans and/or African-American history maintained by federally supported institutions and agencies such as the Library of Congress, the National Archives, the National Gallery of Art, and the Smithsonian. The site also links to a large amount of audio and video, as well as content for teachers that includes ready-to-use lesson plans, student activities, collection guides, and research aids. Last but not least, the site's Images section offers an assortment of images of famous African Americans or historical significance.