Black History Month

Black History Month, or National African American History Month, occurs every February. It celebrates the achievements by black Americans and recognizes the central role of African Americans in the U.S.

Black History Month originated as Negro History Week. It was conceived by historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), the organization he founded. Woodson and the ASNLH hoped to raise awareness of African American contributions to civilization. They began visualizing the idea in 1925 and the first celebration was in February 1926, a week that had the birthdays of both Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. They were met with overwhelming positive response. By the mid-20th century, many city mayors across the U.S. issued proclamations celebrating the week.

In 1976, the celebration was expanded to a month. 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 each American president has issued African American History Month proclamations. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating black history.

The original association that created Negro History Week, now the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), continues to promote the study of Black history all year.

The University of Oregon celebrates Black History Month each year with a wide variety of events that celebrate, honor and highlight the work and culture of black Americans.


February 2017 Black History Month Events

Last Year's 2017 Events

Art Exhibit: You Must Never Look Away From This

All Month | Lawrence Hall 200 (A&AA Library)

This exhibit in the Architecture and Allied Arts (A&AA) Library highlights artists’ books that relate to themes in this year’s common reading selection, Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. The books on view address race, identity, privledge, capitalism, education, diaspora, and family - as lived, studied, observes, and expressed by a variety of artists.

2017 Ruhl Lecture featuring Ta-Nehisi Coates

Friday, February 3 | 6:00pm | Matthew Knight Arena

Ta-Nehisi Coates does not tend to pre-write his keynotes. He talks extemporaneously, forcefully, on the events of the day-sometimes, that literal day-and incorporates themes from his writing. Lately, his focus is on the systemic racism that is inseparable from the growth of the nation: the racist policies that have plundered black bodies, black property, and black lives for economic and social gain. How can we reconcile these acts, many of them ongoing, with the supposedly postracial country some claim we are moving towards? Other related topics include the distressing series of murders of unarmed black people that has rocked the country and dominated headlines. Coates does not offer a casual "snapshot," does not provide easy answers, and does not dole out false hope. He engages audiences in a meaningful, historically-grounded, up-to-the-minute discussion on what it means to talk-really talk-about race today.

Free tickets can be reserved at The annual Ruhl Lecture is hosted by the School of Journalism and Communication.

Derrick Bell Lecture featuring Barbara R. Arnwine

Tuesday, February 7 | 4:00pm | Knight Law Center 175 

The Derrick Bell Lecture series is held in honor of former Dean of the University of Oregon School of Law Derrick Bell (1980-1985), who passed away on Oct. 5, 2011. Among his many contributions to academia, Dean Bell wrote extensively about race in the United States and challenged the academic institutions he served to commit to diversity. He was the first black man to hold the office of Dean of Oregon Law and was among the first people of color to serve as a law school dean at a non-HBCU. Held during Black History Month in February, this lecture series recognizes the extensive contributions Dean Bell made to academia and the pursuit of equity throughout his career. 

Barbara Arnwine's work includes women’s rights, immigrant rights, judicial diversity, criminal justice reform, racial profiling, health care disparities and LBGTQ rights. She is President and Founder of the internationally renowned Transformative Justice Coalition, a leading force behind the passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1991 and the 2006 reauthorization of provisions of the Voting Rights Act. The host of "Igniting Change with Barbara Arwine" on RadioOne, Barbara also serves as the president of the Capital Press Club. She is the board vice-chair of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and serves on the board of directors of MomsRising and Independent Sector. A graduate of Scripps College and Duke University School of Law, she is the Charles Hamilton Houston Chair at North Carolina Central University School of Law and also teaches at Columbia Law School. 

7th Annual Black History Month Banquet

Friday, February 10 | 6:00 - 10:00pm | Valley River Inn (1000 Valley River Way)

Blacks In Government presents current CEO of Margaret Carter & Assoc. and Retired State Senator Margaret L. Carter: The Role of Professionals to Recruit, Mentor, and Retain

Margaret L. Carter is the first African-American woman elected to the Oregon legislature. In 1984, she was elected to represent District 22 in North/Northeast Portland. She is the author of Oregon’s landmark divestiture laws from apartheid South Africa and the act to create a state holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Throughout her legislative career, she worked to ensure that the state’s education systems remained effective and well-funded. Margaret was also an advocate for Oregon’s most vulnerable, crafting legislation in social justice, civil rights, health reform, mental health parity, environmental protection, and public school funding and consumer education. In 2009, Margaret was named deputy director of the Oregon Department of Human Services.

Social 5:30 – 6:30 pm. Banquet 7:00 – 8:30 pm.

Reserve your table or ticket now. Contact: 541-852-9782

Table for 8: $ 600 Tickets: $ 75 per person

Voices: Black In Oregon

Thursday, February 16 | 6:00 - 10:00pm | Ford Alumni Center Ballroom

The University of Oregon’s annual capstone event for Black Heritage month will take place on February 16, 2017 from 6:00pm to 10:00pm in the Ford Alumni Center's Giustina Ballroom. This year's theme is Voices: Black in Oregon and will highlight untold stories of the black community here at the University of Oregon and throughout Oregon’s history in general. This event will provide opportunities of unity that will be both educational and celebratory for students, faculty and staff. We have enlisted the help of the Oregon Black Pioneers organization to provide us with historical information about the Black experience in Oregon.  We will be screening documentary footage on Black activism at the UO, among other visuals of the history of Blacks at UO.  We will showcase various genres of music, dance and spoken word that highlight our rich heritage and also elements that illustrate cultural intersections. We invite you to join us for an evening that will include food, history, performances and celebration.


Ducks After Dark: Loving

Thursday, February 16 | 8:30 - 11:30pm | EMU Redroom Auditorium

Movie plot: Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple, are sentenced to prison in Virginia in 1958 for getting married. Rated: PG-13

Bring your vaid UO Student ID for free admission, giveaways and snacks. Doors at 8:30pm, Film at 9pm. non-UO students may attend for free if accompanied by a UO student.

Wiley Griffon Signage Dedication & Forum

Friday, February 17 | 5:30pm | EWEB Headquarters (500 East 4th Ave)

Celebrate Black History Month with the unveiling of a new historical marker for the home site of one of Eugene’s first African American residents, Wiley Griffon. Learn about how the organization Oregon Black Pioneers and other community members are helping preserve and reveal this rich history.