The entire month of February is celebrated in the United States as Black History Month thanks to both Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950), a historian and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. The precursor to Black History Month was created in 1926, when Woodson and the Association announced the second week of February to be "Negro History Week”. That week was chosen because it coincided with the birthday of Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) on February 12 and of Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) on February 14, both of which dates Black communities had celebrated together since the late 19th century.
At the time of Negro History Week's launch, Woodson contended that the teaching of black history was essential to ensure the physical and intellectual survival of the race within the broader society.
History quotes Woodson as saying… "If a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated. The American Indian left no continuous record. He did not appreciate the value of tradition; and where is he today? The Hebrew keenly appreciated the value of tradition, as is attested by the Bible itself. In spite of worldwide persecution, therefore, he is a great factor in our civilization.”
In the Apalachicola community, Black History Month is celebrated annually with a three-day outdoor festival held during the third weekend in February. The event celebrates and highlights both National and local African-American heritage, including art, culture, and food and concludes with an uplifting outdoor Sunday worship service at Franklin Square Recreation Park located on 6th Street in the African-American community.
The festival is hosted by the Hillside Coalition Of Laborer’s for Apalachicola, Inc., (H’COLA), a local community service organization comprised of committed and dedicated African-American business-minded people, who share the same belief, which is that service to others is a high and worthy calling. The 14th Annual African-American History Festival in Apalachicola is scheduled for February 17-19, 2017. For more information visit http://www.hcola.org/.
In both the spirit and celebration of Black History Month 2017, I have provided a link below to access the speech I wrote and delivered as co-keynote speaker at the 30th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Birthday Celebration held January 16, 2017, at the Fort Coombs National Guard Armory in Apalachicola.
by Apalachicola Mayor Van W. Johnson, Sr.