Originally created 02/03/01

Residents call month for history essential



More than 70 years after Americans began officially honoring black history, the celebration is as needed now as it was in the 1920s, Augustans say.

"We should have a `black decade' because of our many contributions," said local hairstylist Bobby Ealy, 29.

Many people said Black History Month is most needed for the youths, especially black youths, said Mamie McMillion, 59.

"It is pertinent because it instills pride in black youth, and the old learn something new as well," Ms. McMillionsaid. "It is the perfect way for African Americans to learn about their contributions to society."

Augusta resident Ebony Evans, 20, said the month is still essential because not enough black history is taught in the school system.

"Black History Month gives us a sense of belonging," Ms. Evans said. "It allows the youth to know their roots, and gives them pride."

The move toward celebrating a black history month started in 1926, when historian and black activist Carter G. Woodson started Black History Week. At the time, the contributions of black inventors, musicians and politicians were not acknowledged on a large scale.

Mr. Woodson chose February for the celebration because it is the birth month of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, two leaders who tried to improve the quality of life for blacks. And in 1976, Black History Week was lengthened to Black History Month.

"I think that it's an effective way to bring about greater depths of understanding about the tremendous contributions blacks have made to society and to the world," said Dr. John Stanfield, Morehouse College sociology department chairman. "It is not only for blacks, but all Americans and noncitizens. Until people are judged by their character, we will need awareness programs such as (those held during Black History Month)."

Black history events

The following are some Black History Month activities in the Augusta area:

The National Society of Black Engineers will hold its Sixth Annual Technical Creativeness forum from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m today at Fort Discovery onRiverwalk Augusta. The event is free but is limited to the first 300 pupils from area high and middle schools.

Poet Barbara Franklin and her husband, musician Alvin Franklin, will tell African folk tales at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Morris Museum of Art. The event is free.

Paine College will hold its 20th Annual Conference on the Black Experience. The event - which will feature three guest speakers from universities nationwide - will be from 10 to 11 a.m. and from 2 to 3 p.m. Wednesday at the Gilbert Lambuth Chapel at Paine College. The event is open to the public.

The Augusta Museum of History will present a Brown Bag History series on Black Augusta During the Segregation Era. The event will be held at noon Feb. 14 at the museum, and is free for members. Admission costs $2 for nonmembers. Reservations are required.

The NAACP will hold the Ebony Fashion Show at 8 p.m. Feb. 17 at the Gordon Club on Fort Gordon. Admission costs $35.

The Nuwaupian Parade Committee of Augusta will hold a parade along Mill Street at 2 p.m. Feb. 24. Mayor Bob Young will present a proclamation.

Reach Flo Walker at (706) 724-0851