Every February, we celebrate Black History Month which honors the contributions of Black people in the U.S. Many of us are familiar with Rosa Parks, Harriett Tubman, George Washington Carver, and Barack Obama—all of whom had an extremely important role in Black culture and U.S. history for many reasons.

But did you know there are other surprising facts about Black history and why we celebrate it? Read below the fold for more…

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1. There’s a reason we celebrate Black History Month in February.

Before there was Black History Month, there was “Negro History Week” which began in 1926. It wasn’t until 1976 when it became a month-long celebration every February to coincide with Frederick Douglass’ and Abraham “Abe” Lincoln’s birthdays.

Abe Lincoln served as our nation’s 16th president and Frederick Douglass was a national leader in the movement to abolish slavery.

2. The NAACP plays a major role in Black History Month, too.

In the town of Springfield, Illinois in 1908, violent riots took place. This inspired a team of Black leaders to come together and form an official civil rights organization, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, known as NAACP. February 12 is the NAACP’s anniversary which is also Abe Lincoln’s birthday.

3. Claudette Colvin helped to end bus segregation before Rosa Parks.

Many of us know that Rosa Parks rose to fame because she refused to give up her seat to a white man on the bus in Montgomery, Alabama. But nine months before that, Claudette Colvin, a Black female nurse aid, was arrested for doing the same. She was 15 years old, pregnant and unmarried at the time (relevant later).

Why was Claudette Colvin not as famous as Rosa Parks for ending bus segregation (the separation of Black and white people)? Historians now admit that civil rights activists chose not to give her the attention she deserved because she was pregnant and unmarried.

Bus segregation ended in the 1950s when it was ruled by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional.

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A young girl smiles and leans against her locker

4. Yes, there is a Connecticut Freedom Trail, and yes, there’s an actual trail map.

In September of 1996, the Connecticut Freedom Trail was established. The trail recognized the struggles of Black Connecticut natives toward freedom and also celebrates their accomplishments. To this day, the trail sites continue to expand across the state.

Have you heard of the Underground Railroad in the early 1800s? Many fugitive slaves crossed through parts of Connecticut and you can visit those spots, too. Fun fact: the Underground Railroad was neither underground nor a railroad.

For more information, visit the Connecticut Freedom Trail website.

5. Rookie of the Year goes to Jackie Robinson!

Jackie Robinson was a professional American baseball player—and the first Black person to play in the Major League.
On April 15, 1947, Robinson started at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers—this was the end of racial segregation in professional baseball. Later that year, he won the Rookie of the Year award.

Robinson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in the early 1960s for his all-star performance during his run with the Dodgers.

6. John Brown—Torrington, Connecticut native—led a raid against slavery.

John Brown was a famous abolitionist (a person who worked to end slavery in the 19th century). He was mostly known for his raid at Harpers Ferry, a major attack against American slavery. While his intentions were good in that he wanted to end slavery, the raid was not successful, and he was ultimately arrested and executed.

7. A double battle: Black people played a significant part in World War II

During World War II (WWII; 1939-1945), more than 1 million Black men served in the war, and many Black women volunteered on the frontlines. Meanwhile, back at home, Black people continued to face discrimination in the Defense industry and fight for their civil rights. The Black population’s contributions and dedications to our country are a strong reminder of their ongoing battle for equality.

The list goes on and on. This is only the beginning. How will you celebrate Black History Month?

Source Consulted:
Black History Facts – Black History Month & Little Known Facts