Black History Month commemorated by Rep. Vernon G. Smith, IBLC

February 2, 2017 IBLC, Vernon G. Smith

For immediate release:
Feb. 2, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS- The General Assembly and the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus joined State Representative Vernon G. Smith (D-Gary) in celebrating Black History Month today.

This month has been celebrated since 1926, even though it was not until the 20th century that black Americans were represented in textbooks.

The goal of Black History Month is to reflect on the legacy of black Americans and honor them for their courage and dedication that led to our nation’s success.

“Today I want to focus on a person who has been called the father of Black History Month, Dr. Carter G. Woodson,” said Smith.

“Dr. Woodson was born on December 18, 1875 and was the 4th of 7 children. His parents were former slaves and he spent his childhood working in coal mines. He started school late in life but proved to be an excellent student completing a 4-year degree in only 2 years. He was also the second African American to earn a Ph. D.,” Smith added.

Throughout his education, he was disturbed to learn that black Americans had not been properly represented throughout history and were portrayed as being inferior.

This drove him to take on the task of writing black Americans into the nation’s history the right way. He started several organizations that would bring them national attention for their contributions to their country. Some of his organizations include the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History founded in 1915 (now known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History), the Journal of Negro History (now known as the Journal of African American History), and the establishment of Negro Week in 1926.

“Dr. Woodson was a staunch Republican and chose the second weekend of February because it marks the birthdays of two men who profoundly influenced black Americans: Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln,” Smith said.

Black History Month is designed to bridge the gap created by American history’s failure to correctly acknowledge, portray and record the contributions and inventions of black Americans. This month also acknowledges the achievements of black Americans in the military, arts, civil rights, education, entertainment, history and various other areas.

“I was in my junior or senior year of high school and got a quality education in the ‘hood. Most of my teachers where Caucasian and they cared a lot about us, they worked for us and they refused to let us slip through the cracks. But one day I visited a school where they were teaching about black history and standing up singing the Black National Anthem and it touched me. I learned things that day that I never knew before,” said Smith.

“It is my hope that one day we will no longer need to celebrate Black History Month, but instead we will teach about black history every day,” Smith added.