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Black History Month grew out of Negro History Week, which was established in February 1926 by African-American historian Carter G. Woodson. Woodson was the founder of the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History. The original history week was in February to include both Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln’s Birthdays. In 1976, the Nation’s Bicentennial, the celebration was extended to be a month-long. For more information on Black History Month visit http://www.africanamericanhistorymonth.gov/Once a week this month, we’ll feature a prominent African-American here on the blog.

Frederick Douglass was an abolitionist who escaped slavery via the Underground Railroad. Douglass was born to a slave and her plantation owner in 1817. He was taught to read by the wife of one of his owners when he was eight. At 21, he fled slavery and escaped to New York to work as shipyard caulker. There, he married his wife, Anna Murray. In 1841, Douglass heard an address by abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, who urged Douglass to become a platform speaker for the American Anti-Slavery Society. He became known as one of the most eloquent anti-slavery orators of his day. Through his work with the AASS, he was able to publish his first autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave. He went on to tour Europe speaking about slavery, founded an abolitionist newspaper, the North Star, and provided a safe haven for other fugitive slaves by conducting his own Underground Railroad way station. In 1889, at the age of 72, he became the U.S. minister to Haiti. In 1895, he collapsed at a women’s suffrage rally and several weeks later died of heart failure at the age of 78.

References

Black History Month. (2010). In Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary. Retrieved from http://ezp.lirn.net/login?qurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.credoreference.com/entry/hfcwd/black_history_month

Douglass, Frederick (1817 – 1895). (2000). In The Cambridge Guide to Literature in English. Retrieved from http://ezp.lirn.net/login?qurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.credoreference.com/entry/cupliteng/douglass_frederick_1817_1895

Douglass, Frederick. (2008). In The Underground Railroad: An Encyclopedia of People, Places, and Operations. Retrieved from http://ezp.lirn.net/login?qurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.credoreference.com/entry/sharperail/douglass_frederick

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