Looking back on Black History Month

Graphic by Andrew WilsonSamantha Huerta / Staff writer

February is the month of remembrance, celebration and historical meaning to many African Americans here in Corpus Christi and nationally. What used to be recognized for only one week, Black History Month was expanded to the full month when Gerald Ford asked fellow Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history,” according to the history.com site.
According to the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) web site, “The story of Black History Month begins in Chicago during the
late summer of 1915. An alumnus of the University of Chicago with many friends in the city, Carter G. Woodson traveled from Washington, D.C. to participate in a national celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of emancipation sponsored by the state of Illinois.”
Jo Dyer, a member of the Oveal Williams Senior Center, said, “Black history means we are free. It means we came a long way from the 40s and the 50s. We came a long way from the back of the school buses but we still got a long way to go.”
The center is located at 1414 Martin Luther King Dr. and Director Karen Weaver said, “Eighty-five percent of the members of the center are African American and beginning Feb. 5 we will be having a membership drive in relation to Black History Month.”
The purpose of the drive is to make other Corpus Christi residents aware of the center, according to Weaver.
“The school was from first grade to eighth, and I went from the first day to the last. After that, I went to Miller,” said Linda Jefferson, a member of the center.
Jefferson said, “While Martin Luther King receives a full day of celebration, the following month is designated to celebrate other honored African Americans, among them Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman and Malcolm X.”
According to Sandra Glenn, staff assistant at the center, “Being an African American woman, I appreciate the month that is set aside for us, but I believe it should be celebrated every month. We do thank [Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.] for everything he did for us, but everything he did wasn’t done for one day or one month.”
She said, “I find the month is not enough time to celebrate our history-making African Americans.”
Black History Month honors the entire history of African Americans.
“As blacks we have come a long way. We don’t have the problems we had back then. We are now looked at more as human beings,” said Lewis Hardeman, one of the seniors at the center.
“It’s good people will continue to recognize the people who stood up for us, the people who said yes and no. We’ve been coming up slowly since the days of slavery. Now we need to know about the change that’s going to come,” said center member Robert Jackson.
Weaver said in addition to the membership drive, the center will host Soul Food Day (also a national event) celebrating Black History month on Wednesday, Feb. 20 at the center. Center volunteers will prepare traditional dishes and the event is open to senior citizens. For more information, call the center 887-7633.

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