The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime. On December 18, 1865, Secretary of State William H. Seward proclaimed its adoption. Though the amendment formally abolished slavery throughout the United States, factors such as Black Codes, white supremacist violence, and selective enforcement of statutes continued to subject some black Americans to involuntary labor, particularly in the South.
Born December 19, 1875, Carter Godwin Woodson was an American historian, author, journalist and the founder of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. He was one of the first scholars to study African-American history. A founder of The Journal of Negro History in 1916, Woodson has been cited as the "father of black history". In February 1926, he launched the celebration of "Negro History Week", the precursor of Black History Month.
Born in Detroit, Michigan, Ralph Johnson Bunche was an American political scientist, academic, and diplomat who received the 1950 Nobel Peace Prize for his late 1940s mediation in Israel. He was the first African American to be so honored. He was involved in the formation and administration of the United Nations and played a major role in numerous peacekeeping operations sponsored by the UN. In 1963, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President John F. Kennedy.