African American History Month

African American History Month is celebrated annually in the United States in the month of February. People from all walks of life honor the achievements and celebrate the rich heritage of African Americans.

Carter G. Woodson chose the second week of February for Negro History Week in 1926 because it marks the birthdays of two men who greatly influenced the black American population, Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. In 1976, as the nation reached its bicentennial, the week was expanded into an entire month. However, February has much more than Douglass and Lincoln to show for its significance in black American history.

History books just started covering black history when the tradition of African American History Month was started in 1976. So as you can see, there was a tremendous amount of history made before the first word was ever written. That’s why it’s so important to get involved in black history classes and engage in conversations with older members of the black community who remember stories as they unfolded --stories that the history books don’t cover.

African American History Month is also an opportunity to recognize the significant contributions of people with African heritage have made and continue to make in such areas as education, sports, medicine, literary art, culture, public services, economic development, politics and human rights.

Two of my favorite leaders in the African American community were Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ms. Rosa Parks. I wrote an article last year, Dr. King‘s Dream, about what he might think about our nation if he was here today. One statement he made that I often think about is “always develop an internal sense of security that no external situation can remove."

African American have had enormous trials and struggles to overcome. We fought hard to change the hearts and minds of our citizens. But these struggles is what makes us a “strong people”. Our heritage is too unique and rich for me to believe that these struggles have been in vain. Our family, our community, our faith in the church, and our trust in the God we serve, are key factors in our presence and in our endurance.

History Making Event

On November 4, 2008 American elected Barack Obama to be the 44th President of the United States. On January 20, 2009, Barack Obama was inaugurated and he is the first African American to hold that office. This was an historic event for the nation and for African Americans. What a day! This is one event that will go down in the history books.

In President Obama’s Proclamation on National African American History Month he said: “African Americans designed our beautiful Capital City, gave us the melodic rhythms of New Orleans Jazz, issued new discoveries in science and medicine, and forced us to examine ourselves in the pages of classic literature. This legacy has only added luster to the brand of the United States, which has drawn immigrants to our shores for centuries.”

Other important accomplishments in Black History included:

February 23, 1868: W.E.B. DuBois, important civil rights leader and co-founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), was born.

February 3, 1870: The Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was passed, granting blacks the right to vote.

February 25, 1870: The first black U.S. Senator, Hiram Rhodes Revels, took his oath of office.

February 12, 1909: The NAACP was founded by a group of concerned and moderate black, Jewish and white citizens in New York City.

February 1, 1960: In what would become a civil-rights movement milestone, a group of black Greensboro, North Carolina, college students began a sit-in at a segregated Woolworth's lunch counter.

February 21, 1965: Malcolm X, the militant leader who promoted Black Nationalism, was shot to death by three Black Muslims.

As we celebrate Black History Month, let us not forget the accomplishments that were made by exceptional African Americans.

African American History Month should be a national celebration for all mankind. Even though we have made much progress, I believe that we must continue to work together for equality and to achieve the great promise of our nation.

For a tribute on African American History please visit: African American History

Dr King's Dream Article