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February is Black History Month. It celebrates the many contributions of African-Americans.
We owe the celebration of Black History Month to Dr. Carter G. Woodson. Born to parents of former slaves he went on to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard. He was disturbed to find that history books largely ignored the black American population.
He established the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History in 1915. In 1926, he launched Negro History Week as an initiative to bring national attention to the contributions of black people throughout American history.
Woodson chose the second week of February for Negro History Week because it marks the birthdays of two men who greatly influenced the black American population, Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.
The 2009 Black History Month Theme is The Quest for Black Citizenship in the Americas. It celebrates the centennial of the NAACP. A century ago, an interracial group of Americans joined together and formed the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The NAACP drew a national following and inspired others to form organizations for racial change. The centennial of the NAACP is an occasion to highlight the problem of race and citizenship in American history, from the experiences of free Blacks in a land of slavery to the political aspirations of African Americans today.
Some other significant events in Black History are:
1619 - The first African slaves are brought to Virginia
1808 - The US bans the import of slaves
1857 - Dred Scott Supreme Court decision - slaves do not have the right to bring a case to court and cannot be citizens
1861 - Abraham Lincoln becomes President of the US; Civil War starts
1863 - Lincoln issues Emancipation Proclamation
1865 - Civil War ends; Lincoln is assassinated; 13th amendment to Constitution abolishes slavery
1868 - 14th amendment to Constitution grants citizenship to former slaves
1870 - 15th amendment to Constitution prohibits states from denying the right to vote because of race
1936 - Jesse Owens wins 4 gold medals at the Olympics in Berlin, Germany
1947 - Jackie Robinson is the first black man to play major league baseball
1955 - Rosa Parks refuses to give her seat up on a bus in Alabama; Supreme Court orders schools to desegregate with "deliberate speed"
1963 - Dr. Martin Luther King gives "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
1964 - The Civil Rights Acts prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, or gender; Dr. King is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
1967 - Thurgood Marshall appointed to the Supreme Court
1968 - Dr. King is assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee
1969 - The Supreme Court orders schools to desegregrate
1986 - Martin Luther King Jr. Day is declared a national holiday in the U.S.
1992 - Carol Moseley Braun became the first African American woman to be elected to the United States Senate. Mae Carol Jemison became the first African American woman to travel in space when she went into orbit aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour
1995 - October 16 - Million Man March in Washington, D.C
2001 - January 20 - Colin Powell becomes Secretary of State
2009 - Barack Obama becomes 44th President of the United States