To commemorate and celebrate the contributions to our nation made by people of African descent, American historian Carter G. Woodson established Black History Week. The first celebration occurred on Feb. 12, 1926. For many years, the second week of February was set aside for this celebration to coincide with the birthdays of abolitionist/editor Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. In 1976, as part of the nation’s bicentennial, the week was expanded into Black History Month. In 2000, President Bill Clinton proclaimed February as National African-American History Month.
Here are some fact about the United States’ African-American population excerpted from the U.S. Census Bureau:
- As of July 1, 2006, there was an estimated population of 40.2 million black residents in the United States, including those of more than one race. They made up 13.4 percent of the total U.S. population. This figure represents an increase of half a million residents from one year earlier.
- There are 2.4 million black military veterans in the United States in 2006. More military veterans are black than any other minority group.
- African-American-owned businesses had an estimated revenue of $88.6 billion in 2002. The number of black-owned businesses totaled nearly 1.2 million in 2002. Black-owned firms accounted for 5 percent of all nonfarm businesses in the United States.
- There were 129,329 black-owned firms in New York in 2002, which led all states. New York City alone had 98,080 such firms, which led all cities.
- There were 10,716 black-owned firms operating in 2002 with receipts of $1 million or more. These firms accounted for 1 percent of the total number of black-owned firms in 2002 and 55 percent of their total receipts, or $49 billion.
- There were 969 black-owned firms with 100 or more employees in 2002. Firms of this size accounted for 24 percent of the total revenue for black-owned employer firms in 2002, or $16 billion.
- 26% of single-race blacks 16 and older work in management, professional, and related occupations. There are 44,900 black physicians and surgeons, 80,000 postsecondary teachers, 48,300 lawyers, and 52,400 chief executives.
For more insight, check out the Census Bureau’s “Facts for Features: Black History Month.”