The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Let’s remember February

David Taintor

Black History Month is a time when we acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of African-Americans in society as well as our community. The month of February allows us to embrace and recognize what great African-Americans have done to grant us a promising future.

Black History Month began as only a week celebration in 1926 by Carter G. Woodson, the son of former slaves. Later in life Woodson became a high school teacher and was disappointed when he realized black history was not taught to the students; therefore he decided to start a week tribute in February that would emphasize black history.

This week long event was known as “Negro History Week.” In 1976, this week long celebration was changed to a month long

celebration and would reflect on both the history and teachings of African-Americans whose contributions impacted society.

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People often question, why the month of February? Some may think the answer is because February is the shortest month of the year. Others may think it’s to honor Frederick Douglass’ birthday. In actuality, February was chosen to celebrate Black History Month because of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which abolished slavery, was signed in January, but slaves did not hear about the news until February.

Black History Month is a social event that allows individuals to reconcile their differences and to be considered as equals. A lot has changed over time since the beginning of slavery. Frederick Douglass, Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr. and now Barack Obama, our first African-American president, all made a difference in black history.

I believe the inauguration of Barack Obama is making Black History Month stand out as more prominent in comparison to past years. Obama is opening the eyes and hearts of individuals, and showing us that we cannot only be viewed as minorities, but as individuals who can make a difference.

Barack Obama’s slogan, “Yes We Can,” was a slogan that has been emphasized by many great African American’s in earlier years. For example, Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat; she did this because she believed in change. She believed that by boycotting public transportation, African-Americans would have the right to sit wherever they wanted. In 1956, the Supreme Court declared that Alabama’s state and local laws requiring segregation on buses were illegal.

Taking another approach, Jackie Robinson’s actions on the baseball field resembled those of Rosa Parks’ actions on the bus. Jackie Robinson lit the torch and passed it on to several generations of African-American athletes. He was an aggressive man, outraged at injustice, and quick to stand up for his rights. In 1946 Robinson

was the first African-American to integrate baseball, and led the Montreal Royals to the Little World Series championship.

UW-Eau Claire recently started a Black Student Alliance; this is an organization that is geared toward all students on campus, regardless of race.

In conclusion, Black History Month is celebrated all around the country; it is a time to remember and be grateful to the individuals who helped strengthen our nation’s cultural background.

My mother always told me, “Never forget where you come from.”

I never really understood what she meant until now. I look back at my life and everything I went through led me to be the man I am today.

I will never forget where I came from, for I am excited to start my new journey in life. This journey would not have been possible without the great men and women who stood up for what they believed, and fought to give African-Americans an equal opportunity to succeed.

These men and women struggled and died for what they believed, and they never stopped believing that, “Yes We Can.”

Webb is a business administration graduate student and guest columnist for The Spectator.

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Let’s remember February