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African-American Facts for the Week of: January 31st

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Celebrating “Black History Month”

Black History Month, or National African American History Month, is an annual celebration of achievements by black Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of African Americans 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.


African-American Facts for the Week of: January 31st 


January 31, 1988


Washington Redskins quarterback Doug Williams

Washington Redskins quarterback Doug Williams, the first African American quarterback to play in a Super Bowl game, is named MVP in Super Bowl XXII.


January 31, 1865


Congress passed the Thirteenth Amendment

Congress passed the Thirteenth Amendment which, on ratification, abolished slavery in America. The vote in the House was 121 to 24.


February 1, 1990


Original Sit-In Revisited

In Greensboro, North Carolina, Joseph McNeil, Jibreel Khazan (Ezell Blair), Franklin McCain and David Richond repeated the original sit-in of 30 years prior, by having breakfast at the Greensboro Woolworth store.

February 1, 1965


Selma Demonstration Ends in 700 Arrests

More than seven hundred demonstrators, including Martin Luther King Jr., arrested in Selma.

February 2, 1862


District of Columbia abolishes slavery.

February 3, 1920


The Negro Baseball League founded.

February 3, 1956


University of Alabama First Black Student

Autherine J. Lucy becomes the first black student to attend the University of Alabama. She was expelled three days later “for her own safety” in response to threats from a mob. In 1992 Autherine Lucy Foster graduated from the University with a master’s degree in education. The same day, her daughter, Grazia Foster, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in corporate finance.

February 4, 1913


Rosa Parks (born Rosa Louise McCauley) was born on this day

Rosa Louise McCauley Parks was an African-American Civil Rights activist, whom the United States Congress called “the first lady of civil rights” and “the mother of the freedom movement”.

February 5, 1866


Congressman Thaddeus Stevens offered an amendment

Congressman Thaddeus Stevens offered an amendment to Freedmen’s Bureau bill authorizing the distribution of public land and confiscated land to freedmen and loyal refugees in forty acre lots. The measure was defeated in the House by a vote of 126 to 37. A Black delegation, led by Frederick Douglas called on President Johnson and urged ballots for former slaves. Meeting ended in disagreement and controversy after Johnson reiterated his opposition to Black suffrage.

February 5, 1990


Columbia University graduate and Harvard University law student Barack Obama

Columbia University graduate and Harvard University law student Barack Obama became the first African American named president of the Harvard Law Review.


February 6, 1961


Jail-in movement started in Rock Hill, S.C.,

Jail-in movement started in Rock Hill, S.C., when students refused to pay fines and requested jail sentences. Students Nonviolent Coordinating Committee urged south-wide “Jail, No Bail” campaign.

Knowing our own history, or the history of our culture, is important because it helps us to know who we are while molding the future. Being familiar with past events gives us the ability not only to learn from past mistakes but also from the successes.

To me, the omission of any group from history teachings results in a limited understanding of history’s relationship with the present and future. Know your history.

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