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Did You Know? – Black History Month

Joann Wolwowicz

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With the month of February fully underway, people around the United States honor African Americans and look at all of the impacts that they have had to our nation’s history, especially in the areas of politics, science, education, business, and the arts. There have been many milestones throughout the years that give cause for celebration and remembrance this month. The abolition and the Underground Railroad, Jackie Robinson and his break of the color barrier in major league baseball, Martin Luther King Jr. and his “I Have a Dream” speech, and Obama becoming President are just a few events out of many that are worth mentioning.

Black History Month actually began as a week back in 1926 by Carter G. Woodson, a noted African American historian, scholar, educator, and publisher. It then became a month-long celebration in 1976.

The reason the month of February was chosen because it contained the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. Also, Feb. 12, 2009 marked the 100th anniversary of the formation of the NAACP, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The organization was spurred by the growing racial violence in the early twentieth century, particularly by race riots in Springfield, Illinois. The date, Feb. 12, 1909 was chosen because it the centennial anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln.

Now, let us look at some of the people who are honored during the month of February because of their achievements. Jack Johnson was the first African-American to hold the World Heavyweight Champion boxing title in 1908, holding onto the belt until 1915. Thurgood Marshall was the first African-American ever appointed to the United States Supreme Court, serving from 1967 to 1991. George Washington Carver developed 300 derivative products from peanuts, including cheese, milk, coffee, flour, ink, dyes, plastics, wood stains, soap, linoleum, medicinal oils, and cosmetics. Shirley Chisholm was the first African American ever elected to the House of Representatives. She was elected in 1968 as the representative of the state of New York. Hattie McDaniel was the first African-American performer to win an Academy Award for her portrayal of a loyal slave governess in Gone with the Wind. Dr. Mae Jemison became the first African American woman to go into space aboard the space shuttle Endeavor.

There are many people not mentioned in this article that deserve a lot of recognition for all that they have done for this country. There are many people whose names are not even mentioned in history books even today. That is the reason for this month and its dedication to those people who shaped this country. If you would like to learn more or just be involved in celebrating Black History Month, keep a look out for all of the events planned on campus for the month of February.

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Did You Know? – Black History Month