It started out as National African American History Week, the 2nd week in February, in 1926, The reason for this date? Both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass were born in February.
Read about the Emancipation Proclamation, signed in January of 1863, here: http://www.history.com/topics/american-civil-war/emancipation-proclamation
Did you know this about Lincoln and the Proclamation? http://www.history.com/news/5-things-you-may-not-know-about-lincoln-slavery-and-emancipation
The 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1868 gave former slaves citizenship, but it had its flaws: It did not necessarily guarantee them their Constitutional rights. This was debated for years through Congress and the Supreme Court.
.The 15th Amendment gave men of color the right to vote (but not women, nor could any woman vote until 1919).
Note the use of the Roman Numerals XV
For a look at many constitution-related documents, follow this link to the National Archives site: https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs
The celebration of the contribution of African Americans expanded to the month of February in 1976, and became Black History Month. It is about more than slavery, though. Here is just a brief listing of African Americans and their contributions to America:
- Harriet Tubman was well known for her work with the Underground Railroad, guiding slaves to freedom in the north. She will be the first woman featured on money, the $20 bill.
- W E B Dubois, Founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The organization began in 1909 and is still thriving today.
- Hirem Revels was the first Black senator
- Spelman College, in Georgia, was the first college for African American women http://www.spelman.edu/
- Tuskegee Institute, now Tuskegee University, in Alabama, was the first college for African American men: http://www.tuskegee.edu/
- Jackie Robinson was the first black baseball player. He played for the Brooklyn Dodgers.
- Rosa Parks was arrested in 1955 because she would not give up her seat on the bus to a white man. Here she is being fingerprinted:
- Martin Luther King worked tirelessly in a peaceable manner to achieve equality for African Americans. Read about his remarkable life here: http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1964/king-bio.html
- Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, an African American, made the decision that interracial marriage is legal. In the past, it was not: You could be arrested for marrying someone of a different race.
- Shirley Chisholm was the first African American in the House of Representatives, from New York. She served from 1969 to 1983.
- The first African American in outer space was Guion Bluford, Junior.
- Read about astronaut Ron McNair, who has a TRIO scholarship program named for him:
- The McNair Scholarship is unique in that it is for graduate students (those who have finished their Bachelors Degree) https://www2.ed.gov/programs/triomcnair/index.html
- Colin Powell was the first Secretary of State of African American background
- Condoleeza Rice was the first African American and first female to be Secretary of State.
- Barack Obama was the first African American elected president.
- We currently have 1 African American in the Senate, and 43 in the House of Representatives.
What is the significance of Black History Month to you? Think about it, talk amongst yourselves, and see what we all have in common.