Since Black History month was first observed in 1976, several congressional laws and presidential proclamations have changed its recognition as of 2015. President Gerald Ford issued the first presidential proclamation in 1976, urging all Americans to recognize the contributions of African Americans to the nation and its culture. In 1986, Congress passed Public Law 99-244, which recognized February as National Black History Month, and urged both public and private celebrations during the period.
After President Gerald Ford's proclamation in 1976, several presidents have marked February as a time to observe important aspects of African American history, including President Clinton's acknowledgement of African American women in 1996 and President Obama's recognition of the role of African Americans in the Civil War in 2011. In 1996, the Senate passed Senate Resolution 6863, which recognized the legislative contributions of African American U. S. Senators.
Black History month's origins trace back to Dr. Carter G. Woodson's founding of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History in 1915 and Negro History week in February 1926. By 1950, Negro History week had become important to the African American population, and many local politicians around the country issued proclamations to recognize the celebration until its official recognition as Black History month in 1976.