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Central Piedmont Library Exhibits: Current Exhibits - Black History Month

Black History Month 2020

Voting Rights for African Americans

Black History Month Background

Black History Month begins with Carter G. Woodson. Woodson traveled to Chicago in the summer of 1915 to participate in the three-week celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of emancipation. Woodson joined the exhibitors with a display on black history. Thousands of African-Americans came from across the country and the venue overflowed with people waiting to see the exhibits.

Inspired by the celebration, Woodson and four others founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (later renamed the Association for the Study of African American Life and History). The Association was committed to studying the life, history, and accomplishments of the African diaspora that was underrepresented in American academia.

After years of research and outreach, the organization announced the first Negro History Week in February 1926 to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas (February 12th and February 14th). In conjunction with the celebration of those birthdays, schools and communities nationwide organized history clubs as well as hosting events highlighting African-American history and culture.

Negro History Week gained in popularity over the decades and with the rise of Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s, the week began to evolve into a month long celebration. In 1976, President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month on the fiftieth anniversary of Negro History Week and the United States Bicentennial. All American were urged to “seize the opportunity to honor the oft-neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

Carter G. Woodson died on April 3, 1950 in Washington, D.C. Woodson believed that black history was too important to America and the world to be taught in a limited time frame and should be taught all year long.

Black History Month has been observed outside the United States in the United Kingdom, Canada, and Ireland.

Black History Month - Facts and Trivia

Black History Month - Books

Black History Month - Videos

Voting Rights Amendments

15th Amendment 

picture of the 15th amendment

  • The 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granted African American men the right to vote. 

  • Although ratified on February 3, 1870, the promise of the 15th Amendment would not be fully realized for almost a century.

  • Through the use of poll taxes, literacy tests and other means, Southern states were able to effectively disenfranchise African Americans. It would take the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 before the majority of African Americans in the South were registered to vote.

19th Amendment 

picture of the 19th amendment

  • A women's suffrage amendment was first introduced in Congress in 1878.

  • Forty-one years later, on June 4, 1919, Congress approved the women’s suffrage amendment and sent it to the states for ratification. 

  • The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granted women the right to vote and was ratified by the states on August 18, 1920.

24th Amendment 

picture of the 24th amendment

  • The twenty-fourth amendment prohibited federal and state governments from imposing poll taxes before a citizen could participate in a federal election.

  • It was passed by the U.S. Congress on August 27, 1962, and was ratified by the states on January 23, 1964.

  • The twenty-fourth amendment was adopted as a response to policies adopted in various Southern states after the ending of post-Civil War Reconstruction to limit the political participation of African Americans.

Black History Month - Websites