Black History Month was first recognized in the United States in 1926. Dr. Carter G. Woodson began to document the history of African Americans, to give the world a true depiction of his culture in the history books. He not only changed the negative views that were once recognized as truth in the mainstream, but also gave African Americans hope that one day, they would be considered equal in the eyes of society.
Nearly 30 years later, a young prodigy entered the limelight to address the inequalities and racial segregation of African Americans. Known for his inspiring ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave a voice to the Civil Rights Movement and provided hope to a hopeless nation. His death in 1963 was a crush to the country, but his voice continued and continues to be heard today. In 1965, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act, which gave ALL citizens, of all creeds and colors, the right to vote, without discrimination.
As we pay tribute to the African American history makers of the past and present, remember the sacrifices that have been made to ensure equality among all men and women of this great nation. Discard your own prejudices and recognize the beauty in each other. As Martin Luther King Jr. so eloquently put it, let freedom ring!
“…When we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!’” Martin Luther King Jr. – ‘I Have a Dream’ Speech
Black History Milestones
1850: First organization of black workers is established in New York City, called The American League of Colored Laborers.
1869: National Labor Union becomes first organization of white workers to advocate creation of black labor unions.
1869: The Colored National Labor Union is formed.
1918: First federal bureau to attempt to ease labor-related racial tensions caused by blacks leaving the South is established.
1941: The Fair Employment Practice Commission is established, which is the first federal agency to provide fair employment practices.
1945: In New York, the Ives-Quinn Act is passed. It was the first state legislation prohibiting discrimination in employment on the basis of race, creed or color.
1948: Truman signs Executive Order 9981.
1954: Supreme Court rules on Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas case, which stated segregation in public schools was unconstitutional.
1955: Civil Rights Pioneer Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat to a white passenger; Montgomery Bus Boycott ensues.
1957: Martin Luther King and other African American leaders establish the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
1963: Nearly 200,000 people join the March on Washington, where Martin Luther King delivers his infamous, "I Have a Dream" speech.
1964: The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is passed, making it the first federal fair employment legislation.
1965: The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is passed by Congress, which allows all colors and creeds to vote.