Black History

Origins of Black History Month


Origins of Black History Month

The story of Black History Month begins in 1915, half a century after the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in the United States. That September, the Harvard-trained historian Carter G. Woodson and the prominent minister Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), an organization dedicated to researching and promoting achievements by black Americans and other peoples of African descent. Known today as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), the group sponsored a national Negro History week in 1926, choosing the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The event inspired schools and communities nationwide to organize local celebrations, establish history clubs and host performances and lectures.

Sarasota Magazine features an article about Angola:

“Called one of the most significant historical sites in Florida and perhaps the U.S. by Florida historian Canter Brown Jr., Angola is a story of struggle, tragedy and ultimately, survival in the quest for freedom. Angola also reveals Florida’s important role as a sanctuary for escaped slaves who established settlements, farmed, traded and traveled.” Read The Article Here

An Underground Railroad Station in Iowa

In September of 2018, daughter of Manasota ASALH member, Robert Fitzgerald, stumbled upon a hidden piece of Black History while on a road trip across country – evidence of an Underground Railroad Station in Iowa. The marble floor in this old “train station” in Wilton, Iowa, contains replicas of quilts made and used by our enslaved ancestors to guide them to freedom. What a surprise to learn that this small, out of the way town was actually a gateway to freedom! Also, it is commendable that the Iowa State Government took an initiative to finance and hence preserve the memory of those courageous Black souls that passed through that spot! Thanks for sharing, Mr. Fitzgerald!

African-American Women included in Overlooked, stories of remarkable women in The New York Times

On March 8, 2018, journalist Amisha Padnani published an article, “How an Obits Project on Overlooked Women was Born.” The article included the statement: “Since 1851, obituaries in The New York Times have been dominated by white men. Now we’re adding the stories of other remarkable people.” Read The Article Here

Overlooked women featured in this series include: Nella Larsen, a Harlem Renaissance-era writer, Opera Diva Sissieretta Jones, and acclaimed Sculptor Edmonia Lewis.

HOLD THE DATES! Manasota-ASALH Celebrates Black History Month 2017 (specifics TBA)

February 3, 2017, Open House for the exhibition “The Life and Times of Congressman Robert Smalls” presented by The Robert Smalls Collections, LLC, Helen Boulware Moore, Curator, at the North Sarasota Library, time to be announced. Note: Manasota ASALH is a co-sponsor of this event. This remarkable exhibition will be housed in the North Sarasota Library for the entire month of February.

THE NEWTOWN HISTORIC PROJECT – CELEBRATING NEWTOWN / SAVE THESE DATES! (Places & Times TBA) Friday, February 23, 2017 – Reception; Saturday, February 24, 2017 – Visiting each of the Historic Markers; Sunday, February 25, 2017, Ecumenical Service. Ms. Vickie Oldham, Historian.

President Barak Obama, 8 Years of Memorable Photos:


Manasota ASALH celebrated Black History Month with five exciting and informative events!

On February 3, 2016 at 1 PM at the North Sarasota Library, Manasota ASALH’s Member-at-Large, Mrs. Lois Lipscomb-Risacher is sponsoring an afternoon with the family of African-American photographer King Daniel Ganaway. Come meet the family and hear their fascinating story.

On February 20, 2016 at 2 PM at the North Sarasota Library, the Carroll Buchanan Film Series, administrated by Robert Fitzgerald, will feature the film, “Rise,” Episode Five of the Six-Part Series, The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross with Henry Louis Gates.

On February 27, 2016 at 11:30 AM at the Sarasota Hyatt Regency, ASALH’s National President, Dr. Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, will help Manasota ASALH to celebrate its 20th Anniversary.

On Opening on January 28th and running through March 4th The Black Muse 2016 art exhibition at the Sarasota Art Center with fourteen wonderful artists!

On On February 25th at 2 pm at Emma E. Booker Elementary School , the culminating event of an educational program with Manasota ASALH volunteers based on a comprehensive workbook on the Underground Railroad published by the National Park Service. All fourth graders in the school will participate in this program.

In addition, Manasota ASALH’s partner organization, The North Sarasota Library Cultural Resource Center, featured several members of Manasota ASALH at a Black History Book Expo on February 4, 2016; art owned by Manasota ASALH Members, Drs. Carol Sheffield and James Stewart (former ASALH National President) was featured at the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County the entire month of February in an exhibition entitled Celebrating African American Life and History; and Manasota ASALH’s partner organization, the West Coast Black Theatre Troupe sponsored an exhibition and panel with Florida’s renowned Florida Highwaymen Artists on February 8, 2016 and, on February 14, 2016 sponsored a panel discussing the work of playwright August Wilson.

Did You Know?

The NAACP was founded on February 12, 1909, the centennial anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln.

In the decades the followed, mayors of cities across the country began issuing yearly proclamations recognizing Negro History Week. By the late 1960s, thanks in part to the Civil Rights Movement and a growing awareness of black identity, Negro History Week had evolved into Black History Month on many college campuses. President Gerald R. Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976, calling upon the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

Since then, every American president has designated February as Black History Month and endorsed a specific theme. The 2013 theme, At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality: The Emancipation Proclamation and the March on Washington, marked the 150th and 50th anniversaries of two pivotal events in African-American history.

Thank You

Thanks to Robert Fitzgerald, Director of our Manasota ASALH film series, for the links to the articles below.


Upcoming Events

  1. Manasota ASALH General Meeting

    February 28 @ 10:00 am
  2. Manasota ASALH General Meeting

    March 27 @ 10:00 am
  3. Randy Rankin Scholarship Classic

    April 10 @ 8:00 am - April 11 @ 9:00 pm
  4. Manasota ASALH General Meeting

    April 24 @ 10:00 am
  5. Manasota ASALH Donation Fundraiser

    April 28 @ 12:00 am - April 29 @ 11:59 pm
  6. Dr. S. Carroll Buchanan Film Series

    May 2 @ 2:00 pm
  7. Manasota ASALH General Meeting, Scholarships Awarded

    May 29 @ 10:00 am