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The history behind Black History Month

What once was a week-long celebration grew to a month-long observance.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Black History Month is a time dedicated to honoring how far we've come and how far we still have to go. 

The origins of Black History Month date back to 1915 when historian Dr. Carter G. Woodson and Minister Jesse Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. This group was dedicated to preserving and promoting Black excellence.

They sponsored a week-long celebration on the week of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass’ birthdays. President Gerald Ford officially recognized the month-long celebration in 1976.

“Let’s have one communal love for who we are as Black people on this land where we were never meant to survive,” said Dr. Gary L. Lemons, a professor of African American literature and biblical studies at the University of South Florida.

Lemons is the artist behind "Touch In The Spirit of Love,” a new exhibit on display at the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum. His most recent work focuses on reaching hands of all different shades, illustrating the value of love for all humanity.

"History has to be known," Lemons said.

Many people fought for that history to be known, including Queen Miller. She's a former educator in East Tampa and a lifelong member of the NAACP.

“The NAACP was the bread and water to Black people,” Miller said. She tells 10 Tampa Bay she spent years helping people register for the NAACP to help them find a place of comfort and community.

She knows the value of freedom as her grandfather was born into slavery. So she dedicated her life to uplifting her community and preserving Black history.

When asked if she is proud of how far we've come, she responded "as proud as I can be."

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