Black History Month is celebrated in the U.S. throughout the month of February.
American historian Carter G. Woodson established Black History Week to commemorate the contributions that people of African descent have made to our nation.
The first celebration occurred on Feb. 12, 1926. For many years, the second week of February was set aside for the celebration to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and abolitionist and editor Frederick Douglass.
In 1976, as part of the nation’s bicentennial, the week was expanded into Black History Month. Each year, U.S. presidents declare February National African-American History Month.
Some perspective on Black history from Rosetta Jones
Rosetta Jones, Montville Town Councilor, is a woman of color who has broken through myriad barriers in her life and career. After moving from her native Philadelphia (where her color was never an issue; there she was in the majority) to Connecticut decades ago, she found herself to be very much in the minority. Jones became one of a very few women of color to start a career at Electric Boat, then as a typist/keypunch operator. Jones, like many others, lost that job during a mass layoff but she said, she took that closed door as an opportunity. Through EB’s continuing education program, she ultimately earned a salaried position as a Material Production Planner – “a position few women held.”
Jones said she encountered plenty of racism but that never stopped her, indeed, it may have fueled her desire to achieve the American Dream, she said. She would go on to purchase a home, “advance through the ranks” of her new profession from a state Department of Corrections officer then to the highest position inside the prison -- warden. Jones would raise three children on her own through these years, all of whom would go on to earn college degrees; two earning advanced degrees.
Montville Patch asked Jones about Black History Month and its importance, indeed, relevance today.
Why is this month important to so many Americans?
Until our history books begin to tell the story of the multicultural history of America, of all Americans - respected and honored for their contributions - the celebration of Black Month is still relevant. It remains the only time of year in which the volumes of historical and contemporary depictions of African American contributions across a vast spectrum of American life are shared in schools and communities throughout our country. It opens a window that allows other Americans to view the rich diversity of the African-American experience and the breadth of its achievement. Most importantly, it opens doors of self-esteem by presenting young African Americans with positive role models and achievable possibilities in their own personal endeavors.
We’ve come so far in our country’s history, but what more would you like to see happen?
My vision for tomorrow is that we fearlessly confront the antiquated mindset of framing social and economic issues from a black-white framework. It festers a fear of 'us against them,' encourages a competitive 'divide and conquer strategy,' and fails to embrace our collective common humanity. Black history is indelibly interwoven into the fabric of American history. When the deeds of each and every one of us is included in the creation of our nation... February will be known as the month of 'Rose's and Chocolate.' Each of us can lead in this effort!