Susie Sansom Piper’s Black History Month series
“On The Other Side of the Tracks”
as published in the Rockdale Reporter
Tradition’s rich roots will turn 100 in three years from 2012
Editorial by Mike Brown - Rockdale Reporter
February 2, 2012
February is Black History Month and the 35th consecutive series in The Reporter, by
local legend Susie Sansom Piper commemorating the observance.
One of the annual duties each February is to remind many Americans that Black History
Month is not something recent or trendy, that it has a long, rich and brave tradition.
In fact, the tradition of Black History Month will turn 100 in 2015, although its
formal beginning actually dates to 1926.
But the idea began in 1915, the year which marked the 50th anniversary of the end of
the Civil War. Dr. Carter G. Woodson, author, journalist and historian, exhibited at
one of the 50-year observances that year, a three-week affair at the Chicago Coliseum.
Dr. Woodson was inspired to form the Association for the Study of Negro Life and
Five years later Dr. Woodson was urging black civic organizations, and his fraternity
brothers in Omega Phi Psi, to create a special week to observe achievements by African
It was first called Negro History and Literature Week, then Negro Achievement Week. In
1925 Dr. Woodson announced a coordinated Negro History Month would be observed, for the
first time, in February, 1926.
The month was chosen to honor Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, both of whom were
born in February.
Dr. Woodson promoted the observance until the end of his life in 1950. The first state
to formally declare a Black History Month was West Virginia in the 1960s. In 1976 Black
History Month became a national observance.
In the 1990s its name was changed to African American History Month, although many
persons still refer to the observance by its older name. - M.B.