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“You may tread me in the very dirt, but still, like dust, I’ll rise.” ~Maya Angelo

Each year, African American/Black History Month is celebrated during the month of February.

The story of African American/Black History Month begins in 1915, half a century after the 13th Amendment abolished slavery in the United States. The observance of African American/Black History Month was established by Public Law 99-244. African American/Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of blacks 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. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating black history.

The theme for 2019, as provided by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, is “Black Migrations” and emphasizes the movement of people of African descent to new destinations and subsequently to new social realities today. While inclusive of earlier centuries, this theme focuses especially on the 20th century through today.

Beginning in the early decades of the twentieth century, African American migration patterns included relocation from southern farms to southern cities; from the South to the Northeast, Midwest and West; from the Caribbean to U.S. cities, as well as to migrant labor farms; and the emigration of noted African Americans to Africa and to European cities, such as Paris and London, after the end of World War I and World War II. Such migrations resulted in a more diverse and stratified interracial and intra-racial urban population within a changing social milieu, such as the rise of the Garvey movement in New York, Detroit and New Orleans; the emergence of both black industrial workers and black entrepreneurs; the growing number and variety of urban churches and new religions; new music forms like ragtime, blues and jazz; white backlash as in the Red Summer of 1919; and the blossoming of visual and literary arts, as in New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago and Paris in the 1910s and 1920s.

Between 1940 and 1960, over 3,348,000 blacks left the South for northern and western cities. This was one of the largest internal migrations in the history of the United States, which forever changed the urban North, the rural South, African Americans and in many respects, the entire nation.

Noteworthy contributions:

• Barack Obama (1961-present): Known for being elected the first African American to become the U.S. president.

• Dred Scott (1795-1858): Known for being a slave turned social activist.

• Sojourner Truth (1797-1883): Known for being a women’s rights activist and abolitionist.

• Frederick Douglass (1818-1895): Famous abolitionist and human rights activist.

• Harriet Tubman (1820-1913): Known for her work with the Underground Railroad.

• Booker T. Washington (1856-1915): Known for a longstanding leader in the African-American community.

• George Washington Carver (1864-1943): Known for being a famous inventor and scientist.

• Langston Hughes (1902-1967): Known for being a very popular poet and writer.

• Thurgood Marshall (1908-1993): Known for becoming the first black justice on the Supreme Court.

• Rosa Parks (1913-2005): Known for refusing to give up her seat on the bus for a white rider.

• Malcolm X (1925-1965): Known for being a powerful leader in the Nation of Islam.

• Maya Angelou (1928-2014): Known for being a world-famous and highly honored memoirist and poet.

• Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968): Known for being a key figurehead that led the U.S. Civil Rights Movement.

• Colin Powell (1937-present): Known for being the first black U.S. secretary of state.

The African American/Black History Month observance will be held from 1:30-2:30 p.m. Feb. 21 at the Phantom Warrior Center. For more information, please contact the Fort Hood Equal Employment Opportunity office at 254-287-3602 or the Equal Opportunity office at 254-287-6242.