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Black History Month: Little Known but Amazing Facts

By now most people are aware that February is Black History Month and why it is but just in case these facts slipped through the cracks for any of our readers, this is a good place to revisit them. Yahoo answers provides with the following brief synopsis of Black History 101:

Black History Month” was originated in 1926 by Dr. Carter Godwin Woodson. In 1926, it was called “Negro History Week.” Carter Woodson attended college where he earned a B.A. degree in European history and a Ph.D. in history. As a new graduate, he managed to earn a living as a high school teacher; and later as a professor of history at Howard University. He had a strong desire to document Negro history. He co-founded and financed the “Association for the Study of N egro Life and History” in 1915.

In 1926, Dr. Woodson was able to offer the Association’s name to sponsor the week. He chose the second week in February because it marked the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Through Woodson’s promotion of the celebration in the “Journal of N egro History” and the creation and distribution of kits for children, “N egro History Week” gained in popularity.

In 1976, “Negro History Week” expanded into “B lack History Month.” The month is also sometimes referred to as African-American Heritage Month. It is recognized officially in several nations including Canada and the UK, and unofficially in others.

In the U.S., it is recognized officially. In 1975, President Ford issued a Message on the Observance of “B lack History Week” urging all Americans to “recognize the important contribution made to our nation’s life and culture by B lack citizens.” In 1976, President Ford issued the first Message on the “Observance of B lack History Month.” In subsequent years, Presidents Ford, Carter and Reagan continued to issue Messages honoring “African-American History Month.”

In 1986, Congress passed Public Law 99-244 which designated February 1986 as “National B lack (Afro-American) History Month.” This law noted that February 1, 1986 would “mark the beginning of the sixtieth annual public and private salute to Black History.” The law further called upon to President to issue a proclamation calling on the people of the United States to observe February 1986 as “B lack History Month” with the appropriate ceremonies and activities. President Reagan issued Presidential Proclamation 5443 which proclaimed that “the foremost purpose of “B lack History Month” is to make all Americans aware of this struggle for freedom and equal opportunity.” This proclamation stated further that this month was a time “to celebrate the many achievements of African Americans in every field from science and the arts to politics and religion.”

In January 1996, President Clinton issued Presidential Proclamation 6863 for “National African-American History Month.” The proclamation emphasized the theme for that year, the achievements of black women from Sojourner Truth to Mary McLeod Bethune and Toni Morrison. In February 1996, the Senate passed Senate Resolution 229 commemorating “B lack History Month.”

Since 1996, the Presidents have issued annual proclamations for “National African-American History Month.” To honor Dr. Woodson, the national theme for 2008 was “Carter G. Woodson and the Origins of Multiculturalism.” * Yahoo Answers

As you can see Black History Month is not some Johnny come lately effort by the government to appease African Americans as has been suggested by some. It is a fully recognized acknowledgement of what blacks have contributed to our world and not just the US.

Now whats known even less are some of the following facts from Black History.

Fact #1

Nathaniel Alexander was the first to patent the folding chair.

Fact #2

In 1897, Andrew Jackson Beard invented the Jenny Coupler, a device linking train cars together through a bumping process. The Coupler was a boon to the welfare of many railroad workers, who originally had the dangerous job of hooking moving cars together by hand.

Fact #3

Henry Blair is believed to be the second African American to receive a patent. He invented a corn seed planter in 1834 and a cotton planter in 1836. Because he could not read or write, Blair signed his patent with an “X.”

Fact #4

Otis Boykin invented electronic control devices for guided missiles, IBM computers and pacemakers. He would receive almost a dozen patents over his lifetime.

Fact #5

In the late 19th century, C.B. Brooks invented and patented the mechanical street sweeper, a truck equipped with brooms.

Fact #6

The “strongbox,” a locked container used to store money and other valuable items, was invented by Henry Brown.

Fact #7

George Carruthers helmed the group of scientists that created the far ultraviolet camera/spectrograph, used in the 1972 Apollo 16 flight to the moon. His invention revealed new features in Earth’s far-outer atmosphere and highlighted a variety of celestial objects from the perspective of the lunar surface. Carruthers was inducted into the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame in 2003.

Fact #8

In 1897, African-American inventor Alfred L. Cralle patented the first ice cream scoop. His original design remains in wide use.

Fact #9

African-American mechanical engineer David Crosthwait, Jr. created the heating systems for New York’s Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall.

Fact #10

Engineer David Crosthwait, Jr. held 39 U.S. patents and 80 international patents pertaining to heating, refrigeration, temperature regulation and pump processes.

Fact #11

Mark Dean, along with Dennis Moeller, invented the Industry Standard Architecture systems bus, which allowed for the use of computer plug-ins such as disk drives, printers and scanners.

We could go on and on citing the many things we have acclimated to our everyday lives and never even considered that the inventor was black. Of course some might respond by saying why would we care if an inventor is black or not, or why even distinguish Black History from general history?

The answer to each these questions above is the same answer. We distinguish black inventors and Black History from general cases because so much of what blacks accomplished historically was suppressed from the general public. We have a huge rich history of Europeans but Black History by contrast is playing catch up in terms of getting to the masses. Also there are so many misconceptions and prejudice stereotypes woven into the fabric of American society that any historical information that dispels those myths needs to be highlighted from General History.

As someone once said, “Blacks get February, the other 11months are already claimed so one month to balance out 11 is not much but it’s a start.” For more info on Black History Month or facts regarding Black History please contact us.

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