It's Black History Month: Celebrate, Learn, Enjoy

Take some time out during the month to learn how black history has impacted your everyday life.

It's that time of the year again. It's time to celebrate Black History Month. Growing up an '80s baby, this was the only time of the year where I learned about black history in school, both when I attended public and Catholic.

I don't know if black history is really integrated into American history in the classroom setting, but in case you are like me, and didn't get that much exposure, here's a few pieces of knowledge.

It is American history, isn't it?

Black History Month: Is an observance of the history of the African diaspora in a number of countries outside of Africa. It is observed annually in the United States and Canada in February, while in the United Kingdom it is observed in October.

African Diaspora: Is the dispersion of Africans during and after the trans-Atlantic slave trade and others en-route to India as slaves and source of labor. Black people all over the world in the Americas, Caribbean, Latin countries, India and in Europe are a part of the African Diaspora. The term comes from diaspeirein, which is Latin for disperse.

Afro or Black: The Library of Congress terms the month African American History Month. Both terms are interchangeable.

A Need to Recognize Contribution: As a Harvard-trained historian, Carter G. Woodson, had hopes to raise awareness of African American's contributions to civilization, according to the Library of Congress. This was realized when he and the organization he founded, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, conceived and announced Negro History Week in 1925.

Given a Month: The celebration was expanded to a month in 1976, according to The American Presidency Project. President Gerald R. Ford urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

King's Assassination: Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on friend, and famous author and poet, Maya Angelou's birthday on April 4, 1968, according to Biography. Angelou stopped celebrating her birthday for many years afterward, and sent flowers to King's widow every year until Coretta Scott King's death in 2006.

No Passing: Before he was a renowned artist, Romare Bearden was also a talented baseball player, according to Biography. He was recruited by the Philadelphia Athletics on the pretext that he would agree to pass as white. He turned down the offer, instead choosing to work on his art.

Assassination Attempts: Politician and educator Shirley Chisholm survived three assassination attempts during her campaign for the 1972 U.S. presidential election.

Black Inventors: These individuals have played a pivotal role in how American live, work and entertain. View just a few of some notable inventions of black individuals, according to Famous Black Inventors and the Black Inventor Online Museum.

  • Frederick McKinley Jones: Jones patented more than 60 inventions in his lifetime. While more than 40 of those patents were in the field of refrigeration, Jones is most famous for inventing an automatic refrigeration system for long haul trucks and railroad cars.
  • Garrett A. Morgan: Morgan received a patent for the first gas mask invention in 1914. Morgan's other famous invention was the traffic signal. After witnessing an accident on a roadway, Morgan decided a device was needed to keep cars, buggies and pedestrians from colliding. After receiving a patent in 1923,  he sold the rights to the invention to General Electric.
  • Dr. James E. West: A colleague, Gerhard Sessler, and he developed the mic (officially known as the Electroacoustic Transducer Electret Microphone) while with Bell Laboratories. They received a patent for it in 1962.
  • Benjamin Banneker: Developed the first clock built in the United States, studied astronomy and developed an almanac. He helped to create the layout of the building streets and monuments in Washington, D.C.
  • Marie Van Brittan Brown: She and her partner Albert Brown, applied for an invention patent in 1966 for a closed-circuit television security system. The device is considered the predecessor to the modern home security system. Brown's system had a set of four peep holes and a camera that could slide up and down to look out each one. Anything the camera picked up would appear on a monitor.
  • Patricia Bath:  A pioneer in the field of ophthalmology, she created a laser-based device to perform cataracts surgery.


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