A Month to Celebrate – Lonnie G. Bunch III, Founding Director of the NMAAHC

Lonnie Bunch, museum director, historian, lecturer, and author, is proud to present A Page from Our American Story, a regular on-line series for Museum supporters. It will showcase individuals and events in the African American experience, placing these stories in the context of a larger story — our American story.

A Page From Our American Story

February is Black History Month, and as this month comes to a close, it is a reminder to reflect on the many ways African Americans have influenced, improved and shaped our country. It is a month to honor and celebrate the ever-unfolding African American story.

The roots of Black History Month go back to 1926 when noted historian, Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950), the son of former slaves, launched the first observance of Negro History Week in February of that year. It is said that he chose February because the month contained the birthday of Abraham Lincoln (the 12th) and the accepted birthday of Frederick Douglass (the 14th). His goal was to bring together historians, business leaders, educators, church leaders, and people from all walks of life in a week-long celebration of the accomplishments of blacks in the United States.

Dr. Woodson dedicated his life to documenting and preserving African American history and culture and is often called the “father of black history.” In 1915, he created the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, now called the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, and founded the Journal of Negro History soon after. What began as Negro History Week in 1926 has been celebrated every year since and eventually became Black History Month in 1976.

Since then, Black History Month has been a treasured time to celebrate African Americans who have struggled, sacrificed, and triumphed throughout history to make our country what it is today.

And this year, the National Museum of African American History and Culture is proud to commemorate Black History Month in our very own iconic building on the National Mall, where we have welcomed more than one million visitorssince opening in September.

While the museum exists to celebrate the contributions of African Americans all year round, it has marked Black History Month with numerous special events and programs to further explore and showcase African American history and culture.

Among this month’s offerings, the museum held an exclusive screening of I’m Not Your Negro, a compelling new documentary on literary icon James Baldwin; a curator-led talk giving a “Behind the Scenes” look at our Slavery and Freedom exhibition; special offerings in our Sweet Home Café from award-winning African American chefs; and a musical performance of works by esteemed African American classical music composers.

The National Museum of African American History and Culture is honored to uphold the legacy and vision of Carter G. Woodson. Our museum is dedicated to serve the nation as the most comprehensive cultural destination to explore, document and showcase the African American story in celebration of Black History Month—and every month, for generations to come.

Please visit our website for information about upcoming events and programs.

All the best,
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Lonnie G. Bunch III
Founding Director
P.S. Your support has made this Museum possible. I hope you will consider making a donation today, or joining us as a Charter Member.

To read past Our American Stories, visit our archives.

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