THE ORIGIN AND HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE OF BLACK HISTORY MONTH
- Black History Month celebration began as “Black History Week.” It was started in 1926 by Carter G. Woodson, a noted African-American, scholar, educator, and publisher. Mr. Woodson chose the 2nd week of February because it marked the birthdays of two men who greatly influenced the population of Black American people—Frederick Douglas, an escaped enslaved person who became one of the foremost Black abolitionist and civil rights leaders in the nation, and Abraham Lincoln the President of the United States who signed the Emancipation Proclamation which abolished slavery in America’s confederate states.
- The observation of Black History became a month long celebration in 1976, and is sometimes referred to as African-American Heritage Month.
- It began as a way of remembering important people and events in the history of the African- American diaspora. It is celebrated annually in the United States and Canada in the month of February, as well as in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Republic of Ireland in October.
- On January 20, 2006, Black History Month was recognized as a federally recognized, nationwide celebration that provides the opportunity for all Americans to reflect on the significant roles that African-Americans have played in the shaping of the United States history.
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THE COLORS RED, BLACK & GREEN?
- The United Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) founded by Marcus Garvey has a constitution which defines red, black and green as the Pan-American colors.
RED representing the noble blood that unites all people of African Ancestry
BLACK for the people
GREEN for the rich land of Africa
LITTLE KNOWN BLACK HISTORY FACTS
- Bessie Coleman was the first African American woman to become a pilot. She was born in Atlanta, Texas, in 1892. She grew fascinated with the returning World War 1 pilots’ stories and went to France in 1920 to pursue her dream of getting into aviation. She was awarded her pilot’s license in June 1921.
- Interracial marriages were outlawed in 1664, and the decision wasn’t overturned until 1967, when a Black woman named Mildred Jeter married Richard Loving, a white man in the District of Columbia. The couple was arrested upon their return to Virginia, but the Supreme Court ruled in their favor in the famous Loving vs. Virginia trial.
- On Maya Angelou’s birthday, April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. Angelou stopped celebrating her birthday for years afterward, and sent flowers, to his widow, Coretta Scott King, for more than 30 years until Coretta’s death in 2006.
- Barack Obama won two Grammy awards. He was first honored in 2005 for the audio version of his memoir, Dreams from My Father (best spoken word album), and received the second Grammy (in the same category) in 2007 for his political work, The Audacity of Hope.
- Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson (born August 26, 1918) is an African-American woman, one of NASA’s human computers, performed the complex calculations that enabled humans to successfully achieve space flight. On May 5, 2016, a new 40,000-square-foot building was named “Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility” and formally dedicated.
- Doctor Vivien Theodore Thomas was an African-American surgical technician who developed the procedures used to treat blue baby syndrome in the 1940s.
- George Speck, also known as George Crum, was an American chef and creator of the “potato chip.” He worked as a hunter, guide, and cook in the Adirondack Mountains, and became renowned for his culinary skills after being hired at Moon’s Lake House on Saratoga Lake, near Saratoga Springs, New York.
- Edmond Albus was born into slavery and became an important figure in the cultivation of vanilla. At age 12, he invented a technique for pollinating vanilla orchids quickly and profitably. His technique revolutionized the cultivation of vanilla and made it possible to profitably grow vanilla beans away from their native Mexico.
- Charles Henry Cooper was an American professional basketball He and two others, Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton and Earl Lloyd, became the first African-American players in the NBA in 1950. Cooper was also the first African American to be drafted by a National Basketball Association (NBA) team, as the first pick of the second round by the Boston Celtics.
- Claudette Colvin is an American nurse and was a pioneer of the Civil Rights Movement. On March 2, 1955, she was arrested at age 15 in Montgomery, Alabama, for refusing to give up her seat to a white woman on a crowded, segregated bus. Colvin acted a few months before the more widely known incident in which Rosa Parks, secretary of the local chapter of NAACP played the lead role, sparking the Montgomery Bus Boycott that began that year.
- Shirley Ann Jackson is an American physicist, and the 18th president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She is the first African American woman to have earned a doctorate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She is also the second woman in the United States to earn a doctorate in physics, and the first to be awarded the National Medal of Science.
- Gerald Anderson “Jerry” Lawson was a self-taught American electronic engineer. He was the first Black Video Game Professional. He created one of the first coin-op arcade games (Demolition Derby), and was the head of Video Soft, an early independent developer for the Atari 2006. He is known for his work in designing the Fairchild Channel F video game console as well as inventing the video game cartridge.
- Aretha Louise Franklin was an American singer, songwriter, civil rights activist, and pianist. Aretha won an incredible 18 Grammy awards in her life time. She became the first female artist to be inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Aretha performed at the inauguration of three US Presidents.
*Special thanks to Delilah and Greta for putting this information together!*