What exactly is Black History Month?
Black History Month, or National African American History Month, is an annual celebration of achievements by black Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of African Americans in U.S. history.
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.
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 2012 theme pays tribute to the ways in which black women have shaped the United States and its history.
Mediaura is proud to have assisted in developing and implementing an exciting music-based initiative for KFC’s Pride 360 initiative for four years in a row. Pride 360 expanded on black history month, emphasizing the importance of Family, Individuality, Community, and Heritage as a year round promotion. The KFC Hitmaker website, developed by Mediaura, an important piece of Pride 360, was developed to celebrate black music month (June). Hitmaker was an online music contest where contestants were encouraged to sing, rap, or even create instrumental pieces that carried the theme of Pride 360. Fans were allowed to vote on their favorite songs and each year the best contestants were featured on a CD and won prizes that helped further their music career. Some contestants even made appearances at other KFC sponsored events and even on BET!
Our team was very passionate about this contest, as each year over the months of June and July we would get to hear all of the great songs since we had to audition them for compliancy with the contest. We also got to communicate with the fans, and when we announced the prize to the winners you could hear the excitement over the phone in their voices.
Unfortunately, the Hitmaker contest has been discontinued, but we encourage people everywhere to take a moment and reflect on what black history month means, and to keep in mind the principles of Pride 360.