Americans have recognized black history every year since 1926 - it was first called "Negro History Week", and later became known as "Black History Month".
The study of black history and Black History Month owes its existence to Dr. Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950). Dr. Woodson enrolled in high school at the age of twenty and graduated within 2 years. He went on to earn his Ph.D. at Harvard.
Woodson and four others created the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) on September 9, 1915. The next year, the ASNLH began publication of the Journal of Negro History. He wanted to encourage the study of black history but was aware that most textbooks at the time ignored the history and achievements of blacks. Therefore, in addition to the journal, Woodson promoted the idea of a "Negro History Week,"
He believed that the two men who influenced the African-American population the most were Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, and therefore chose the second week in February for Negro History Week because it marks the birthdays of these two great men. When Negro History Week turned into Black History Month in 1976, the celebrations during the second week of February expanded to the entire month of February.
Mayor of a major city: Carl Stokes in Cleveland, Ohio in 1967
Elected Governor: L. Douglas Wilder from Virginia in 1990
U.S. Representative: Joseph Rainey from South Carolina 1870
U.S. Senator: Hiram Revels from Mississippi in 1870
Editor of Harvard Law Review: Charles Hamilton Houston, 1919
Federal Judge: William Henry Hastie in 1946
U.S. Supreme Court Justice: Thurgood Marshall, 1967
Nobel Peace Prize Winner: Ralph J. Bunche in 1950 (Mediating the Arab-Israeli Truce)
Combat Pilot: Eugene Jacques Bullard in 1917
First Congressional Medal of Honor Winner: Sgt. William H. Carney in 1900 for bravery during the Civil War
First Patent Holder: Thomas L. Jennings, 1821 for a dry-cleaning process
Inventor of the Blood Bank: Dr. Charles Drew, 1940
First Astronaut: Robert H. Lawrence Jr. 1967
Network Television Host: Nat King Cole, 1956
Major League Baseball Player: Jackie Robinson, 1947 for Brooklyn Dodgers
NFL Quarterback: Willie Thrower, 1953