PICKENS COUNTY — South Carolina Legislative Black Caucus Chairman John R. King released the following statement on the 2018 observation of Black History Month:
“February 1st, 2018 marked the beginning of the month-long celebration designed to highlight and acknowledge the contributions and roles African Americans have played in the history of our country and the roles we continue to play in making the United States the greatest example of democracy in the history of world civilization. It is truly because of the work and sacrifices of African Americans that all ethnic groups are able to aspire and achieve great success in our country.
“The Civil Rights leaders of the past are true American heroes, who understood that in order for this country to become a true democracy centered on laws and equality, it must treat all citizens fairly, with dignity and respect. Black History Month pays proper respect to the giants of yesterday and today.”
King continues, “Although the African American community still faces many challenges and obstacles, we can be optimistic because we are a people who have always overcome challenges and hardships. We are a people whose contributions have directly shaped this country’s culture and overall identity. All Americans should be proud to celebrate and honor February as Black History Month.”
The origins of Black History Month date back to 1915 when Harvard-trained historian Carter G. Woodson and Minister Jesse E. Mooreland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), known today as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). In 1926 the group sponsored Negro History week and chose the second week of February because it coincided with the birthdays of Frederick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln.
By the late 1960s the week became a month-long celebration and in 1976 President Gerald Ford officially recognized February as Black History Month and called on the country to use the month as a time to, “honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
Since 1976, every U.S. president has recognized February as Black History Month and each year highlighted a specific theme focused on the contributions of Black Americans to American history.
The 2018 theme centers on “African Americans in Times of War” and highlights the roles Black Americans played during all American conflicts from the Revolutionary War to present day.