As many residents know, February was designated as Black History Month. Black History Month grew out of "Negro History Week," established in February 1926 by the African-American historian Dr. Carter G. Woodson. Expanded in 1976 to a month-long observance, this celebration of the contributions and achievements of African-Americans was initially designed to encompass the birthday of the abolitionist, orator and journalist Frederick Douglass on February 14, as well as Abraham Lincoln's birthday.
The nationwide event is widely observed by schools, churches, libraries, clubs and organizations wishing to draw attention to the contributions of African-Americans. It is important to recall that in the United States between 1619 and 1926, African-Americans and other persons of African descent were classified as a race that has not made any contributions to human civilization. African-Americans and other persons of African descent were continually dehumanized and relegated to the position of non-citizens, often defined as fractions of humans.
Dr. Woodson stated that sharing knowledge of African history would "built self-esteem among African-Americans and help eliminate prejudice among whites." The observance of this month is a testimony to those African pioneers who struggled to affirm humanity for African people in the United States. This month-long commemoration challenges the present generation to protect and preserve humanity for all people, regardless of race, creed, gender and sexual orientation. For this, we all need to join millions of residents across the United States in commemorating Black History Month.