black history month, barack obama, martin luther king jr., frederick douglass

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Barack Obama, Frederick Douglass

Comedian Chris Rock once famously joked that Black History Month is in February because it’s the “shortest month of the year, and the coldest—just in case we want to have a parade.” Given the lessons that come with studying Black history, it’s not too far-fetched to believe Rock’s explanation.

However, there are in fact two very important reasons why the month was chosen and they have nothing to do with the weather or parades, and everything to do with the abolition of slavery.

Long before Black History Month was established, Black people would often celebrate the emancipation of the slaves in February because it was the month that abolitionist Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln were born.

Lincoln was born on the 12th and Douglass’ actual birthday was never recorded, but he celebrated it on the 14th.

Douglass was an escaped slave who became a prominent activist, author, public speaker and leader in the abolitionist movement. President Lincoln paved the way for the 13th Amendment, which outlawed slavery.


Carter G. Woodson

via Wikimedia Commons

The push for what would become Black History Month started in 1915 when Harvard-educated historian Carter G. Woodson attended a 50th-anniversary celebration of the 13th Amendment. The three-week-long event featured various exhibits about the history of Black culture in America. The event inspired Woodson to form the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History (ASALH) and write a book “The Journal of Negro History.”

In 1924, Woodson’s fraternity created Negro Achievement Week. Over the next few decades communities across the country began to celebrate what evolved into Negro History Week and the ASALH expanded the idea to become Black History Month.

In 1976, President Ford made it official declaring February Black History Month, and asked Americans to "seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history."

The 2022 Black History Month theme is Black Health and Wellness. This focus celebrates the contributions and breakthroughs of Black professionals as well as to “nontraditional” health and wellness practitioners.

President Barack Obama made a speech in 2016 about why we celebrate Black History Month and he did a great job at encapsulating why and how it should be celebrated. Obama’s speech at the White House—a building built by slaves—is a testament to one of the central messages behind the month. We celebrate Black History Month to learn from our past to build a better future.

"Black History Month shouldn’t be treated as though it is somehow separate from our collective American history, or somehow just boiled down to a compilation of greatest hits from the March on Washington, or from some of our sports heroes," President Obama said.

"It’s about the lived, shared experience of all African Americans, high and low, famous and obscure, and how those experiences have shaped and challenged and ultimately strengthened America. It’s about taking an unvarnished look at the past so we can create a better future. It’s a reminder of where we as a country have been so that we know where we need to go."

Moricz was banned from speaking up about LGBTQ topics. He found a brilliant workaround.

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given a fair warning: If he used his graduation speech to criticize the “Don’t Say Gay” law, then his microphone would be shut off immediately.

Moricz had been receiving a lot of attention for his LGBTQ activism prior to the ceremony. Moricz, an openly gay student at Pine View School for the Gifted in Florida, also organized student walkouts in protest and is the youngest public plaintiff in the state suing over the law formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.

Though well beyond third grade, Moricz nevertheless was also banned from speaking up about the law, gender or sexuality. The 18-year-old tweeted, “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.”

However, during his speech, Moricz still delivered a powerful message about identity. Even if he did have to use a clever metaphor to do it.

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Matthew McConaughey in 2019.

Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey made a heartfelt plea for Americans to “do better” on Tuesday after a gunman murdered 19 children and 2 adults at Robb Elementary School in his hometown of Uvalde, Texas.

Uvalde is a small town of about 16,000 residents approximately 85 miles west of San Antonio. The actor grew up in Uvalde until he was 11 years old when his family moved to Longview, 430 miles away.

The suspected murderer, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, was killed by law enforcement at the scene of the crime. Before the rampage, Ramos allegedly shot his grandmother after a disagreement.

“As you all are aware there was another mass shooting today, this time in my home town of Uvalde, Texas,” McConaughey wrote in a statement shared on Twitter. “Once again, we have tragically proven that we are failing to be responsible for the rights our freedoms grant us.”

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Joy

Meet Eva, the hero dog who risked her life saving her owner from a mountain lion

Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva when a mountain lion suddenly appeared.

Photo by Didssph on Unsplash

A sweet face and fierce loyalty: Belgian Malinois defends owner.

The Belgian Malinois is a special breed of dog. It's highly intelligent, extremely athletic and needs a ton of interaction. While these attributes make the Belgian Malinois the perfect dog for police and military work, they can be a bit of a handful as a typical pet.

As Belgian Malinois owner Erin Wilson jokingly told NPR, they’re basically "a German shepherd on steroids or crack or cocaine.”

It was her Malinois Eva’s natural drive, however, that ended up saving Wilson’s life.

According to a news release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva slightly ahead of her when a mountain lion suddenly appeared and swiped Wilson across the left shoulder. She quickly yelled Eva’s name and the dog’s instincts kicked in immediately. Eva rushed in to defend her owner.

It wasn’t long, though, before the mountain lion won the upper hand, much to Wilson’s horror.

She told TODAY, “They fought for a couple seconds, and then I heard her start crying. That’s when the cat latched on to her skull.”

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