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Ever Wonder Why February is Black History Month?

Today is Feb. 28, 2010. It is the last day of the month in the shortest month of the year. This is the month Black History is celebrated throughout the United States. Each year the question is asked, why February?

The short answer: Historian Carter G. Woodson, one of the founders of the Association of Negro Life and History (ANLH), selected the week that contains the birth dates of two people who played a prominent role in shaping black history: Abraham Lincoln, Feb. 12, and Frederick Douglass, Feb. 14. Lincoln (1809-1865), a white man and the 16th president of the United States, signed the Emancipation Proclamation to free black slaves in some states. Douglass (1817-1895), a black man, was an orator, journalist and anti-slavery leader of the 19th century.

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Blogs Politics

“Are You Dead?” an Editorial by David Banner

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If situations dictate actions, what are the consequences of inactivity? This question is more relevant today than it has ever been for the Black community. Here’s another pertinent question, are we a dead people?

How can a people be dead you may ask? If by dead we mean “unresponsive”, no longer “significant”, “stagnant”, “without resonance”, “inactive” or “no longer productive”, can the Black community then be considered dead? Some examples may prove instructive.

The power to define is one of the hallmarks of an independent people. It speaks directly to the issue of control. As a community what or who controls our everyday thoughts and ideas? Are we programmed by the packaged stories and images from the corporate controlled media, which in turn renders us “no longer productive” of our own thoughts?

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Skip Gates on Black History Month

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News

Little-known stories of black history in Virginia

Manassas, Va.—A new Manassas Museum exhibit, opening in time for Black History Month, will highlight 27 unique African American stories and events depicted on Virginia highway historical markers.

The exhibit, “Sites and Stories: African American History in Virginia,” illuminates the often little-known stories told in those familiar silver and black roadside historic markers found throughout the state.

Several biographies of prominent African Americans are included in the exhibit:

John Mercer Langston (1829-1897) was Virginia’s first African American congressman, serving one term for seven months in 1890. Born a free man in Louisa County, Langston graduated from Oberlin Col-lege before he became president of Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute (1885-1887) which is today known as Virginia State University.

William Mack Lee (1835-c.1930) served as Gen. Robert E. Lee’s valet and cook throughout the Civil War. He was with Lee at Appomattox and witnessed the surrender. After the war, Lee used money left to him by Gen. Lee to seek an education and in 1881 was ordained a minister.

James Leonard Farmer (1920-1999) was a major force in the civil rights movement, organizing the Free-dom Rides in 1961. The goal of the rides was to force compliance with court orders to desegregate inter-state transportation.

The exhibit also commemorates events and movements important to African American history:

n In August 1831, Nat Turner, an African American from Southampton County, rebelled against the institu-tion of slavery. He led a group of 70, that killed 60 white men, women and children in two days before armed civilians quelled the insurrection. Turner and about 30 of his followers were hanged after being tried and convicted.

n In 1951, students at the R. R. Moton School in Farmville, named after Tuskegee Institute President Robert Moton, boycotted classes to protest overcrowded conditions and inadequate facilities. The lawsuit, Davis v. Prince Edward County Schools, was one of the five cases decided jointly by the Supreme Court on May 17, 1954, when it held that separate schools for blacks and white were unconstitutional.

Virginia was one of the first states to launch a historical highway marker program. When the initial markers were erected in 1927, patriots, presidents, early homes and Revolutionary and Civil War sites were well represented.

The exhibit hopes to encourage visitors to travel to the physical sites of the markers. The exhibit and open-ing reception are included with admission.

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