2007-02-16 / Community

Celebrate Black History Month

With February being Black History Month, State Senator Shirley L. Huntley is reminding her constituents that it's an opportunity to recognize the many contributions and accomplishments of African Americans throughout our history. "Not only is this a chance to recognize some of the great contributions of African Americans, but it is also a chance to celebrate the diverse history of our country," Senator Huntley said.

"Black History Month is an ideal time to recognize and celebrate the truly remarkable history of achievement that African Americans have experienced to date, and to reflect upon the miracles to come," the senator noted.

The idea for an annual celebration of African American History began with Dr. Carter G. Woodson in 1926. Dr. Woodson was the founder of the Association for Afro-American Life and History and had initiated what was then referred to as Negro History Week. February was chosen as the month to celebrate African American History because it contains the birthdays of both Frederick Douglass, the abolitionist, orator and journalist, as well as President Abraham Lincoln, who signed the Emancipation Proclamation in his steps to end slavery.

Dr. Woodson believed that through recognizing the contributions of the often overlooked African Americans, all Americans would be reminded of their ethnic roots, and that harmony among the country's different racial groups would develop through respect and understanding. Finally, in 1976, this national recognition of African American History was expanded to include the entire month of February.

"Dr. Woodson began something that inspired all Americans to appreciate and embrace the diversity that our country was founded on," said Senator Huntley. "He was able to show the many contributions African Americans have made to make this country what it is today."

Senator Huntley also noted that in 1997 the New York State Legislature established the New York State Freedom Trail Project to document and interpret the experiences of African Americans, abolitionists and others in New York State during the time leading up to the abolishment of slavery in 1865 with the ratification of the 13th amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

"I hope people will take the time to look and follow the chronology of the Freedom Trail Project. It will help bring a true appreciation of the many accomplishments as well as setbacks African Americans have endured over the years to get to where we are today," the Queens lawmaker said.

Individuals interested in learning more about Black History Month may contact Senator Huntley's office at 518-455-3531 for a detailed brochure about celebrating African American history.

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