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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."

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Noe Hernandez and Maria Carrillo, the owners of Noel Barber Shop in Anaheim, California.

Jordyn Poulter was the youngest member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team, which took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She was named the best setter at the Tokyo games and has been a member of the team since 2018.

Unfortunately, according to a report from ABC 7 News, her gold medal was stolen from her car in a parking garage in Anaheim, California, on May 25.

It was taken along with her passport, which she kept in her glove compartment. While storing a gold medal in your car probably isn’t the best idea, she did it to keep it by her side while fulfilling the hectic schedule of an Olympian.

"We live this crazy life of living so many different places. So many of us play overseas, then go home, then come out here and train,” Poulter said, according to ABC 7. "So I keep the medal on me (to show) friends and family I haven't seen in a while, or just people in the community who want to see the medal. Everyone feels connected to it when they meet an Olympian, and it's such a cool thing to share with people."

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Marlon Brando on "The Dick Cavett Show" in 1973.

Marlon Brando made one of the biggest Hollywood comebacks in 1972 after playing the iconic role of Vito Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather.” The venerable actor's career had been on a decline for years after a series of flops and increasingly unruly behavior on set.

Brando was a shoo-in for Best Actor at the 1973 Academy Awards, so the actor decided to use the opportunity to make an important point about Native American representation in Hollywood.

Instead of attending the ceremony, he sent Sacheen Littlefeather, a Yaqui and Apache actress and activist, dressed in traditional clothing, to talk about the injustices faced by Native Americans.

She explained that Brando "very regretfully cannot accept this generous award, the reasons for this being … the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry and on television in movie reruns, and also with recent happenings at Wounded Knee."

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