Black History month reflects America

Karon Parrish

   There is a rich history behind Black History Month. The month had its beginnings in 1926 as an annual Negro History Week, launched by Carter G. Woodson. Woodson was dismayed by the lack of black history he found in American history books.

Exploring the Underground Railroad
Ashley Collins
Staff Writer

   The Gateway Student Support Center will be taking their students on a trip back into time Feb 26 when they attend Slave Haven Underground Museum in Memphis .

   The museum, a former way station, displays artifacts like old ads and auction pieces that help tell the story of the Underground Railroad.

   Tawana Jones estimates 10 students will attend the trip to the Underground Railroad museum.

   Gateway takes students different places each year for education proposes. Last year, the students attended the National Civil Rights Museum housed at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, where Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated.

   Woodson was a son of former slaves who earned his doctorate in history at Harvard University. In addition to launching Negro History Week, he also founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History in 1915. He later established two scholarly journals: Journal of Negro History and Negro History Bulletin.

   To combat the inequities he found in American history, Woodson took the challenge of writing black Americans into the history of the country. Woodson established the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History, which sponsored the history week.

   He chose the second week of February because it marked the birthdays of two important figures in black history, Abraham Lincoln and abolitionist Frederick Douglass. In the early 1970s the week was changed to Black History Week, and in 1976 it was expanded to the whole month of February and named Black History Month.

   Tawana Jones, acting director of Gateway Support Services said, “I want everyone to understand that Black History Month is more about American History.

   “We can look up to significant people such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. but also the people in our own lives who have made a difference to us personally. My grandmother and mother are examples of those people,” Jones said. “I also look up to Dr. Vanneise Collins, UAM dean of Social and Behavioral Sciences, she worked straight through to get her PhD and knows what she wants out of life. She is a mentor and inspiration to me. Being a black woman, she has come so far in the academia workplace.”

   University of Arkansas – Monticello campus offices and organizations sponsored several events throughout the month including “A Celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King,” sponsored by Student Services; an exhibit in the Fred J. Taylor Library and Technology
Center that displayed the biographies of six African-Americans featured on U.S. Postal Service Black Heritage Stamps; and the third annual Black Heritage Celebration, held at Monticello Middle School auditorium with UAM Homecoming Queen Caswanna Allen as Mistress of Ceremonies and guest speaker Josephine Buffington of 1st Lady of Morning Star Baptist Church.

   Treasure Jackson, first-year chemistry major, said, “My grandmother would tell me stories of how she had to pick cotton for very little pay and we should be glad that we have it so much better than they did back then. It is people like this that make me remember Black History month.”

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