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February a month of Black History

by Salatha Helton, Life Styles editor

 

To those who are unfamiliar with Black History, February is just another month of the year; however, for the African-American community, February is a reminder and celebration of struggles and accomplishments.

February itself is an important month in history with messages for black people and others as well. Feb. 12 marks the birth of the 16th U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, who fought for the end of slavery. Feb. 14, 1817, is the birth date of former slave and writer Frederick Douglass, noted for calling for the freedom of all people. On Feb.3, in the year 1870, the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Bill of Rights granted to blacks the right to vote.

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Many events important for the African-American community took place during and are commemorated in February.

Black History month also reminds us of other events and people.

Malcolm X, a famous Muslim leader and activist, was shot to his death Feb. 21, 1965. His assassination not only gave people awareness of his concept of Black Nationalism, but it also was a wake up call for people to see the ongoing struggle to end racism and segregation.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a passionate speaker, educator, and civil-rights activist, was a keynote speaker at the historic March on Washington. His famous “I Have a Dream” speech, sparked the civil-rights movement, and in 1963 Time magazine honored Dr. King as Person of the Year. A year later, in 1964, he was named the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. Dr. King’s fight to end violence was interrupted, because on April 4, 1968, while standing with Reverend Jesse Jackson, he was shot to his death. His dream of unity led to immediate violence between blacks and whites but ultimately may have contributed to the ending of segregation.

The beginning of hope for black people came in 1926, when Negro History Week was observed as a holiday. The founding of this holiday is due to Dr. Carter G. Woodson, a man born into slavery of parents who were illiterate. He taught himself to read and enrolled himself into high school at age 20. In high school, Woodson was outraged that none of his history books made mention to the accomplishments of black people in America. Woodson chose the second week of February as Negro History Week, because it was the birth dates of two important influences in the lives of black people, President Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.

He established the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, and by so doing brought black people together and gave to others an understanding about the importance of African-Americans in history.

The week was expanded 50 years later, and called Black History Month. The “Father of Black History,” Dr. Woodson had died six years before, but it is certain that if he were alive today, he would be proud to see the institution of a holiday that he fought for all to recognize.

Black History Month, is a month not only for African Americans but for all of us, for it celebrates our history as a country through a focus on justice for all the peoples that comprise the United States.

 

 

 

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