Celebrate the contributions

Black History Month 2020 calls to attention those men and women who, despite segregation and derision from fellow countrymen, chose to serve in the cause of freedom as Americans.

“African Americans and the Vote” is the theme selected by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, the founders of Black History Month. The theme is built around two important anniversaries — the 150th anniversary of the 15th Amendment, and the right of black men to vote after the Civil War, and the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote –and it speaks to the fight black men and black women have waged to secure their voting rights.

As always, the month calls to mind great community leaders, from the civil rights movement, from academia, from city leadership, law enforcement and daily life.

Black History Month was established by Carter G. Woodson. Woodson, born in 1875 and the son of former slaves, himself a former coal miner and educator, understood a proper education was important in seeking to make the most out of one’s freedom. He earned his high school diploma in an all-black high school in Huntington and advanced degrees at the University of Chicago. He was the second African-American to earn a doctorate at Harvard. He established the association in 1915 and began “Negro History Week” in 1926 after recognizing a lack of information on the accomplishments of blacks in American history. February was chosen because of the correlation with the birthdays of abolitionist author Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln.

Taught the theories of “black inferiority” the same as white students when he earned his degrees, Woodson knew better, and knew his mission was to teach truth.

And that’s what is available to all during Black History Month, a chance to ponder contributions in all walks of life, to be educated, to learn and to appreciate.


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