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About Black History Month

Throughout February, Stony Brook University hosts Black History Month, an annual tradition that celebrates the African American/Black experience. There are educational, social, and cultural programs held on the Stony Brook campus, reflecting this year's theme: Sankofa! Celebrating the African Diaspora

The concept of Sankofa has its origin in Ghana, West Africa. When translated, it means that "it is not taboo to go back and fetch what you forgot." Sankofa is used throughout the pan-African world to promote the idea that African people must go back to their roots in order to move forward. The theme was created to re-ignite awareness, appreciation, passion, and commitment to Black History Month for all people, but especially those whose ancestors are from the African Diaspora.

Black History Month is coordinated by the Office of Diversity, Intercultural and Community Engagement, Department of Africana Studies, and the Black History Month Committee. For more information, contact us at (631) 632-9912.

Why February?
In 1926, Harvard scholar-activist Carter G. Woodson proposed the second week of February for "Negro History Week," primarily because it marks the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, two men who had profoundly impacted the history of black people in America. The week was expanded into an entire month in 1976 as the nation reached its bicentennial year. At this time new light was thrown on the significance of February in African-American History:

  • February 23, 1868: Birthday of W.E.B. DuBois, civil rights activist, Pan-Africanist, sociologist, educator, historian, writer, editor, poet, and co-founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
  • February 3, 1870: The Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, granting blacks the right to vote, became law.
  • February 25, 1870: Hiram Rhodes Revels, the first black Senator, took his oath of office.
  • February 12, 1909: The NAACP was founded in New York City.
  • February 1, 1960: A group of black Greensboro, North Carolina, college students began a sit-in at a segregated Woolworth's lunch counter.
  • February 21, 1965: Malcolm X, the reknown leader who promoted Black Nationalism, was assassinated.

Carrying Forth the Mission
Stony Brook University's racial diversity and scholarly excellence puts us in an outstanding position to celebrate the achievements and acknowledge the struggles of African-Americans. This is, of course, a year-round responsibility. With the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, we believe that "Black history, like American history, should be studied 365 days a year. Yet we continue to view February as the critical month for carrying forth the mission."