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February is Black History Month

Joining the nation in celebrating Black History Month, we would like to share some interesting facts about this important month-long celebration.

Black History Month actually began as “Negro History Week.”  This week long celebration was started in 1926 by Carter G. Woodson, a noted African American historian, scholar, educator, and publisher.  In 1976, it became a celebration that would last throughout the month of February.  February was chosen to coincide with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.

Did you know that each year a new theme is chosen as the year’s focus?  This year’s theme is “At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality: The Emancipation Proclamation and the March on Washington.”

The theme of this year focuses on two specific events that shaped equal rights for blacks in the United States.

One hundred fifty years ago, on January 1, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation set the United States on the path of ending slavery.  It wasn’t until a century later, on August 27, 1963, that hundreds of thousands of Americans, blacks and whites, joined the March on Washington to the memorial of Abraham Lincoln, the author of the Emancipation Proclamation, in pursuit of the ideal of equality of citizenship.

The “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom” took place on August 28th, 1963 in Washington D.C.  It was during this historic march that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous ‘‘I Have a Dream’’ speech from the Lincoln Memorial.  One year later, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as a step towards fulfilling the promise of the Emancipation Proclamation.

The Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
The Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

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