According to Presidential Proclamation, the nation recognizes African American History Month to “honor the men and women at the heart of this journey — from engineers of the Underground Railroad to educators who answered a free people’s call for a free mind, from patriots who proved that valor knows no color to demonstrators who gathered on the battlefields of justice and marched our Nation toward a brighter day.”
In California, Senator Holly Mitchell has introduced a resolution to recognize February as Black History Month. According to the resolution, “This measure would recognize February 2014 as Black History Month, urge all residents to join in celebrating the accomplishments of African Americans during Black History Month, and encourage the people of California to recognize the many talents, achievements, and contributions that African Americans make to their communities.” The resolution also notes that 2014 is a significant year as it marks the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act and the 60th anniversary of Brown vs. Board of Education.
In addition, Assemblymember Mariko Yamada hosted a hearing on aging issues in the African American community yesterday. According to Assemblymember Yamada, “Each component of California’s multi-cultural population contributes to our rich diversity and quality of life.” The hearing explored “ways to address the specific social and health challenges that older African Americans face, and how policymakers can incorporate that knowledge into programs and culturally competent services.”
If you are planning on honoring African American History Month in your community, the Library of Congress has collected some wonderful resources. Peruse their visual slideshow, as well as their audio/video collection, for items to share with residents and employees. You can also find exhibits based on themes such as military, civil rights, art, culture, and sport. Or, why not arrange an outing? If you’re in the Bay Area, you can arrange a visit to the Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial to learn how the civil rights of African American sailors were impacted during WWII. And Southern California residents can visit LA’s California African American Museum, which hosts exhibits and events featuring artists and historians throughout the month.
However you choose to celebrate it, African American History Month is the perfect time to share, as Senator Mitchell’s resolution says, the “inspirational stories of great men and noble women whose actions, words, and achievements have united Americans and contributed to the success and prosperity of the United States,” and of the state of California.