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Son of former slaves the man behind Black History Month

On May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court ruled the "separate but equal" clause was unconstitutional because it violated the children's 14th amendment rights by separating them solely on the classification of the color of their skin. (file photo)

Americans have recognized Black history annually since 1926, first as "Negro History Week" and later as Black History Month. The celebration of the month, and more important, the study of Black history, began with the ground-breaking work of Dr. Carter G. Woodson and the efforts of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Born to parents who were former slaves, he spent his childhood working the Kentucky coal mines and enrolled in high school at the age of 20. He graduated within two years and went on to earn a doctorate from Harvard. Woodson was disturbed to find during his studies that the history books largely ignored the Black American population and, when Blacks did figure into the picture, it was generally in ways that reflected the inferior social position they were assigned at the time.

Woodson acted on his ambitions and decided to take on the challenge of writing Black Americans into the nation's history. He established the association for the study of Afro-American life and history in 1915, and a year later founded the widely respected journal of Negro History. 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 impacted the American Black population, Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, to show the week's significance in Black American history.

For example: W.E.B. DuBois, an important civil rights leader and cofounder of the NAACP, was born Feb. 23, 1868. The 15th Amendment was passed, granting Blacks the right to vote, Feb. 25, 1870, and the first Black U.S. senator, Hiram R. Revels (1822-1901), took his oath of office. Furthermore, the NAACP was founded by a group of concerned Black and White citizens in New York City on Feb. 12, 1909.

In the early 1970's the event was called "Black History Week," and in 1976, the NAACP succeeded in expanding the observance, which then became "Black History Month," which is proclaimed each year by the President of the United States.

This year, as in years past, the 6th Air Mobility Wing is holding a series of events to commemorate the history, culture and pride of Black Americans.

"Many Team MacDill superstars are working behind the scenes to ensure each of this year's events are world class," said Senior Master Sgt. Cotious Arnold, chairperson, 6th Air Mobility Wing African American Committee. Be sure to check out the schedule of events for this month below.

(courtesy of 6th Air Mobility Wing Military Equal Opportunity office)




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