Before there was Black History Month, there was Negro History Week.

On February 7, 1926, Carter G. Woodson, a history scholar and professor, launched the first Negro History Week in February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Woodson’s parents were former slaves and illiterate, and he spent most of his youth working on a farm or in the coal mines in West Virginia. He was mostly self-taught and entered high school at age 20. Woodson went on to graduate from Berea College in Kentucky, earn a master’s degree from the University of Chicago, and become the second Black American to obtain a PhD from Harvard University. (ICYMI, W.E.B. Du Bois was the first.) He taught at historically Black colleges, including Howard University and West Virginia State University. Woodson was the founder of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) and the Journal of Negro History. Negro History Week was expanded into Black History Month by students at Kent State University in Ohio in 1970. Six years later, as more universities, school districts, and Black cultural centers celebrated Black History Month, President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976, two hundred years after the independence of the United States.

Instead of writing about Black history and culture at Trinity, I asked students to respond to prompts so that their voices could be amplified across campus and beyond. Here are their responses.

Why is it important that we celebrate Black history and culture at Trinity University?

“Trinity University is a classic example of a PWI and because of this, I think it is all the more important for the student body, faculty, and staff to spend time reflecting on Black history considering the horrors of racism, anti-Blackness, and prejudice continue to plague our community, especially considering the little representation of Black students, faculty, and staff on campus. I think we need to take this time to celebrate Black history, reflect on our characters and continue to work on making positive changes in our community.”
-Lauren Dotson, Class of 2024. Major: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Philosophy

“Black history and culture is a part of American history, and American history would not be what it is without the existence and influence of Black people. So it is important that it is celebrated at Trinity because it is an integral part of this society for everyone, whether or not people realize it or care to realize it.”

-Aaliyah Jones, Class of 2026. Major: Political Science, Business Administration, and Legal Studies minor

“I believe it is important we celebrate Black history because of how historically and currently the U.S. continues to whitewash and bury the subject. With the rise in politicians who deny events that happened and legislation actively trying to rewrite Black history, we and Trinity must continue to learn and speak loudly on Black stories. Celebrating Black history ensures that the Black voices that have been silenced are given an amplifier. Black history is not just a month; it is history that continues to evolve and change as more information is found out and brought to the light. It is important that Trinity, as a PWI, offers more Black history classes and hires more Black professors to expand the knowledge of the students here on campus to combat the growing ahistorical narrative developing in the U.S.”

-Nonye Okoye, Class of 2024. Major: Political Science

Who or what from Black history or Black culture inspires you?

I think that the recurring ability to make beauty out of ugly circumstances that Black culture as a whole has demonstrated inspires me greatly. From our music, to our fashion, to our food, Black people have consistently made the best out of nothing; and its significance is so profound that it is always admired by the greater American pop culture.

-Aaliyah Jones, Class of 2026 . Major: Political Science, Business Administration, and Legal Studies minor


James Baldwin and bell hooks.

-Jasmine Janeé, Class of 2024. Major: Urban Studies and Sociology

What does Black History Month mean to you?

Black history month to me means the unapologetically boisterous celebration of all things Black: people, culture, love, and history.

-Aaliyah Jones, Class of 2026 . Major: Political Science, Business Administration, and Legal Studies minor

The library has a display celebrating Black authors and more. This display is in the lobby entrance of Coates Library on the third floor.