Black History Month 2018
African Americans in Times of War
Black History Month, initiated by Carter G. Woodson as Negro History Week in 1926, was federally recognized by President Gerald Ford in 1976 and has been designated by every American president since as Black History Month and endorsed with a specific theme. It is observed in February to honor the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln, who were important in black American history. February is also significant for February 3, 1870 when black men were granted the right to vote by the passing of the 15th Amendment.
The theme for Black History Month 2018 is, "African Americans in Times of War." It marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I and honors the
role of black men and women who served their country in the armed forces, especially those who paid the ultimate price and gave their lives in the
fight for freedom and democracy. Freedom and democracy that didn't even fully apply to them, yet they fought valiantly for it and even died for it.
During World War II, more than 2.5 million black men registered for the draft and one million served as draftees or volunteers in every branch of the armed
forces. Most were assigned to segregated combat groups. Perhaps most well-known, the legendary Tuskegee Airmen, received a Distinguished Unit Citation,
several silver stars, 150 distinguished flying crosses, fourteen bronze stars, and 744 air medals for their heroic feats.
At the end of World War II, recognition of the African-American contribution to the war effort would eventually lay the groundwork for the civil rights
protests of the 1950s and 1960s.