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Michigan Humanities Council
Michigan African American History Month Events

On the Life and Times of Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad
Feb. 18 in Niles
One of many African American History Month events by the Niles District Library, come enjoy this storytelling performance for all ages. Event begins at 2 p.m. For more information contact the library at (269) 683-8545.

Puppet Performance: Underground Railroad,
Not a Subway

Feb. 19 in Detroit
Witness the story of a young boy who escapes slavery and goes north. Performance by puppeteer Schroeder Cherry, and sponsored by the Founders Junior Council. This event will be held at the Detroit Institute of Arts and is free with paid general admission. Event begins at 2 p.m. Call (313) 833-7900 or visit

Lecture: Freedom Riders
Feb. 28 in Allendale
Diane Nash will speak about her experience coordinating the Freedom Ride from Birmingham to Mississippi, which was documented in the recent PBS documentary, “Freedom Riders.” This event will be held at Grand Valley State University – Pere Marquette Room at the Kirkhof Center, and begins at noon. For more information, call (616) 331-2177 or visit

Slavery to Freedom: An American Odyssey
Feb. 23 in East Lansing
Former NAACP leader and civil rights pioneer Julian Bond will speak at Michigan State University as part of its 12th annual program, Slavery to Freedom: An American Odyssey. The lecture series by the College of Osteopathic Medicine is part of the university’s observance of African American History Month. Bond will speak at 5 p.m. at the Kellogg Center. He was a leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the 1960s and served as NAACP chairman from 1998-2010. Admission is free; for more information call (517) 432-4979

Honors African American History Month Michigan Humanities Council

Presidential Proclamation:
National African American History Month

    President Barack Obama "The story of African Americans is a story of resilience and perseverance. It traces a people who refused to accept the circumstances under which they arrived on these shores, and it chronicles the generations who fought for an America that truly reflects the ideals enshrined in our founding documents. It is the narrative of slaves who shepherded others along the path to freedom and preachers who organized against the rules of Jim Crow, of young people who sat-in at lunch counters and ordinary men and women who took extraordinary risks to change our Nation for the better. During National African American History Month, we celebrate the rich legacy of African Americans and honor the remarkable contributions they have made to perfecting our Union."

Read more of the Presidential Proclamation from President Barack Obama.

Story Behind Celebration of African American History

   Carter Godwin Woodson, shown here as a young man, is known for establishing Negro History Week (now Black History Month), and founding the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History – renamed Association for the Study of African American Life and History.
African American History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of African Americans in
U.S. history.

This celebration dates back to 1926, when historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans began “Negro History Week.”  By the time of Woodson’s death in 1950, “Negro History Week” had become a central part of African American life and much progress had been made in all Americans appreciating the celebration. Soon, mayors of cities across the country began issuing proclamations noting "Negro
History Week."

The celebration was expanded to a month in 1976, when President Gerald R. Ford urged Americans 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 issued African American History Month proclamations.

African American History Month Teaching Resources

  If you’re an educator, don’t miss out on this opportunity to teach your students about the great accomplishments and contributions that African Americans have made to the history and cultural development of the U.S. Check out this resource from the National Endowment for the Humanities on lessons that tell the 400-year story of African Americans.
    Michigan Humanities Council

Michigan Humanities Council
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