TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — In 1924, historian and author Carter G. Woodson organized a week to recognize and study the achievements of Black Americans. Since then, that celebration has evolved into the present-day Black History Month, first proclaimed by President Gerald Ford in 1976 and honored by every president since. 

Florida State University faculty experts are available to comment on a variety of topics related to Black history:

Anasa Hicks, assistant professor, Department of History

Hicks specializes in Latin American and Caribbean history, especially 20th-century Cuba, Hispanic Caribbean, women, gender and labor studies.

“This Black History Month is an opportunity to consider Black histories that transcend our national borders. In Florida especially, the lives and struggles of Black Caribbeans have always intersected with those of African Americans. As we re-read “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” for example, let’s remember that Zora Neale Hurston wrote a pioneering anthropological study of Haiti in the 1930s. The struggle for recognition of Black dignity has always been transnational.” 

Maxine Montgomery, professor, Department of English

Montgomery has published widely on the fiction of Gloria Naylor and Toni Morrison. Her research specializations include contemporary Black women’s fiction, African diaspora literature and culture, Black apocalyptic and postapocalyptic literature, expressive culture and critical race theory.

"Progress is a hard-fought battle that few are willing to wage. But we must continue to advocate for positive social change, using the past as a stepping stone for a more just, equitable future — one where there is respect for the diverse, often strident voices that compel us to look at ourselves with an unflinching gaze, knowing that only through such introspection can we achieve, in the truest sense, a more perfect union.”

Katherine Mooney, associate professor, Department of History

Mooney studies the cultural history of inequality in the United States — how it is imagined and made into political and legal discourse and how it plays out in people’s daily lives. She primarily works on the history of slavery and its legacies. She is presently at work on a biography of one of the first African American sports heroes, jockey Isaac Murphy. 

“Black History Month is a great annual opportunity to remember the history of emancipation and the debates over freedom and equality in this country. It's also a great time to honor the legacies of the African American athletes who have been at the heart of those debates for 150 years.”