The Charleston Area Branch of ASALH was chartered in 1995, after history professors Dr. Bernard Powers and Dr. Alpha Bah, and fifteen students attended the annual ASALH Convention in Atlanta in 1994. After returning, the professors and other persons convened to organize a branch in Charleston. The first meeting was held on November 1994, at the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture, with the following attendees: Dr. Alpha Bah, Dr. Marvin Dulaney, Nathaniel Green, Tony Levine, and Dr. Bernard Powers. After this, planning meetings were held at Avery on the third Saturday of each month. Several members then attended the annual convention in Philadelphia in 1995. Dr. Bernard Powers filled the vacant president spot in 1996 before the 1996 annual ASALH convention was held in Charleston. The conference attendees were able to explore, learn, and understand the traditions and impact of enslaved people in the area via the tours of historic landmarks and sites that were given downtown and outside Charleston. Sessions were held with professional historians, sociologists, Black artists and culture and many more presenting their research. Additionally, graduate students and local presenters spoke on Gullah and Lowcountry traditions (i.e. arts and cultural musical forms). After the convention, the Charleston Branch has maintained its positive impact on the community as seen by its increase in adult and youth memberships. The Branch has monthly meetings to discuss the state of the organization, coordinate events, and recognize the local members that have impacted the community. The 1996 annual meeting was the first opportunity Charleston had to host the annual convention and it positively impacted the region as it brought in hundreds of people to learn the significance of this historic city. Charleston hosted the 104th ASALH Annual Meeting in October 2019.

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National ASALH


The mission of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH®) is to promote, research, preserve, interpret and disseminate information about Black life, history and culture to the global community.


  • Sets the annual theme for Black History Month. Establish Annual Black History Theme
  • Publish Annual Black History Theme Learning Resource Package
  • Sponsor annual Black History Kick-Off Events
  • Host Annual Convention and Black History Month Luncheon
  • Establish, nurture and grow ASALH Branches, including campus-based branches & youth guilds.
  • Manage professional Speaker’s Bureau
  • Establish national and local Partnerships
  • Host Essay Contest for undergraduate and graduate students
  • Promote oral, public and local history projects
  • Commemorate the birth of our founder, Dr. Carter G. Woodson

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Association Founder

Dr. Carter G. Woodson

Known as the “Father of Black History,” Dr. Woodson (1875-1950) was the son of former slaves.  Although he did not begin his formal education until he was 20 years old, his dedication to study enabled him to earn a high school diploma in West Virginia and bachelor and master’s degree from the University of Chicago. 

In 1912 he became the second African to earn a Ph.D from Harvard University.

Recognizing the dearth on information on the accomplishments of Blacks in 1915, Dr. Woodson founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, now called the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). In 1926, he initiated the celebration of Negro History Week, which corresponded with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.  

​Under Dr. Woodson’s leadership, the association created research and publication outlets for Black scholars with the establishment of the Journal of Negro History  (now the Journal of African American History) (1916) and the Negro History Bulletin (now the Black History Bulletin) (1937), which serves as a resource for K-12 educators as well as public appeal.