Black History Month, or National African American History Month, is an annual celebration of achievements by black Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history. The event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating black history. The story of Black History Month begins 50 years after the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in the United States.
In the late summer of 1915, Carter G. Woodson, an alumnus of the University of Chicago, Awarded a doctorate from Harvard three years earlier, participated in a national celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation sponsored by the state of Illinois. Thousands of African Americans traveled from across the country to see exhibits highlighting the progress their people had made since the destruction of slavery. Woodson joined the other exhibitors with a black history display. A crowd of six to twelve thousand waited outside for their turn to view the exhibits. Inspired by the three-week celebration, Woodson decided to form an organization to promote the scientific study of black life and history before leaving town.
Woodson and the prominent minister Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), an organization dedicated to researching and promoting achievements by black Americans and other peoples of African descent. Known today as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), the group sponsored a national Negro History week in 1926, choosing the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The event inspired schools and communities nationwide to organize local celebrations, establish history clubs and host performances and lectures.
In the decades the followed, mayors of cities across the country began issuing yearly proclamations recognizing Negro History Week. By the late 1960s, thanks in part to the Civil Rights Movement and a growing awareness of black identity, Negro History Week had evolved into Black History Month on many college campuses. President Gerald R. Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976, calling upon the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Since then, every American president has designated February as Black History Month and endorsed a specific theme. The 2014, National African American History Month theme is Civil Rights in America.
African American History Month brings to the forefront the inspiring stories of African-American icons—many of whom overcame great odds to leave their mark on the United States. At Goodwill Southern California, we believe in promoting cultural diversity every day of the year and celebrating the contributions that individuals from all socio-economic backgrounds contribute to humanity. In observance of African American History Month we would like to recognize the notable African Americans who embody the four cornerstones of Goodwill Southern California: Empowering Individuals, Enriching Communities, Advancing Businesses and Caring for the Earth.
Empowering Individuals - Derrick Coleman, backup fullback for the NFL National Champion Seattle Seahawks, is the first deaf offensive player in the NFL. During the weeks leading up to Super Bowl XLVIII, the world became enamored with Derrick Coleman after a commercial highlighting his journey to become a professional football player despite what many considered an insurmountable limitation in the world of professional sports, went viral.
While he might be the most discussed reserved player in the history of the Super Bowl, Coleman embraces the attention because he is, as he says, “a man with a cause”. “I want to reach out to the other hard-of-hearing and deaf community, to kids I can relate to, and who can relate to me,” he said. “Everybody has problems. I wear a hearing aid. Some people have glasses. Some people have depression. But as long as you don’t let that get in the way, you can do anything you want.”
Coleman is an inspiration to all people of varying abilities, and serves as an example of what can be achieved with determination and a little compassionate assistance.
Enriching Communities – The first female artist to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with her first five albums, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter is one of the hottest and most notable superstars on the planet. But, Beyoncé is also a philanthropist who has contributed a great deal of her time to helping people in need over the years.
• Mrs. Carter created a fun remix of her catchy song, “Move Your Body” — along with a music video for First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign to prevent childhood obesity.
• Beyoncé and Jay-Z recently raised $1 million for the Shawn Carter Foundation, which is a scholarship initiative for students facing financial challenges. Since the organization launched in 2002, more than 750 applicants have received funding to go toward their education.
• In 2010, Beyoncé and her mother, Tina Knowles founded the Beyoncé Cosmetology Center, which offers a seven month cosmetology training program for women recovering from drug and alcohol addiction.
• After Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, the performer, her family, Kelly Rowland, and Michelle Williams started the Survivor Foundation to assist families that were displaced or struck with disease as a result of the natural disaster. Over the years, the organization has donated more than $2.5 million to support Katrina victims in the Houston area.
• In 2013, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter lent her voice to help raise awareness about Goodwill’s mission of transforming lives through the power of work. “Goodwill helps people get back to work by providing education, job training and placement. I wanted to team up with an organization that puts people first and works every day to help them improve and re-establish their lives,” said Beyoncé.
Advancing Businesses – Earvin “Magic” Johnson led the Los Angeles Lakers to 5 NBA Championships in the 1980’s. He also earned three League MVP’s and three Finals MVP’s. Upon retirement, Johnson has parlayed his success on the court into success in business and become the most powerful African American businessman in America.
In 1987, Magic Johnson formed Magic Johnson Enterprises (MJE.) The organization’s mission is to serve as a catalyst for driving unparalleled business results for (their) partners and fostering community/economic empowerment by making available high-quality entertainment, products and services that answer the demands of ethnically diverse urban communities. Over the last 3 decades Magic Johnson and MJE have gone on to start several dozen businesses and franchises, such as Magic Johnson Theatres, Fat Burger, Starbucks and T.G.I. Fridays, creating job opportunities and economic development in underserved areas.
Johnson has fought every hurdle in his life brilliantly and has been a true inspiration for many of us.
Caring for the Earth - Lisa Jackson is best known as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency – an appointment bestowed upon her by President Barack Obama. She is the first person of African American descent to serve as EPA Administrator. The chemical engineer was employed by the EPA for 16 years before taking the helm. She has become the first EPA administrator to focus on reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976, which regulates the introduction of new or already existing chemicals. She was also cited as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World by Time Magazine.
Deaf Seahawk Coleman aims to inspire, is succeeding on field and online. Retrieved from http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/2/2/deaf-seahawkcolemanaimstoinspireissucceedingonfieldandonline.html