Black History Month – February 2021
Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history. We will be bringing you some historical facts throughout the month of February in recognition of black history.
First, a quick background on the celebration: Black History Month began as “Negro History Week” and was created in 1926 by Carter G. Woodson, a noted African American historian, scholar, educator and publisher. It became a month-long celebration in 1976. The month of February was chosen to coincide with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass, an escaped slave who became a prominent activist, author, and public speaker. Mr. Douglass became a leader in the abolitionist movement, which sought to end the practice of slavery, before and during the Civil War, and Abraham Lincoln, elected 16th president of the United States in November 1860, shortly before the outbreak of the Civil War and who succeeded in abolishing slavery.
Black History Fact for February 8 & 9:
The First Professional Black Baseball Player: On April 5, 1947, Jackie Robinson became the first African American to play Major League Baseball when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers. He led the league in stolen bases that season and was named Rookie of the Year.
Black History Facts for February 10 and 11:
- The first Black President: In 2008, President Barack Obama became the first Black president of the United States.
- The first Black Vice President: In 2021, Kamala Harris became the first woman of African or Asian descent to become vice president of the United States. Ms. Harris's mother immigrated to the United States from India and her father immigrated from Jamaica.
Black History Fact for February 22 and 23:
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia. He was an American Baptist minister and activist who became a well-known spokesperson and leader during the Civil Rights Movement from 1955 until he was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee in 1968. His assassination fell on the same day as his friend Maya Angelou’s birthday, on April 4, 1968. Ms. Angelou, an American poet, author and also a civil rights activist, stopped celebrating her birthday for years afterward, and sent flowers to Dr. King's widow, Mrs. Coretta Scott King, for more than 30 years, until Mrs. King’s death in 2006.
Black History Facts for February 25 and 26:
We may all be familiar with Famous Amos chocolate chip cookies, here are some facts from before Mr. Wally Amos became famous for his "Famous Amos" chocolate chip cookies. He was born in Tallahassee, FL in 1936 and after his parents separated in 1948, Wally Amos moved to NYC to live with his Aunt Della. This was when he began to enjoy his aunt’s delicious chocolate chip cookies. He worked at a talent agency where he worked his way from working the mailroom to becoming the first black agent in the history of the agency where The Supremes, Simon & Garfunkel and Diane Ross were discovered. In 1967, he moved to Los Angeles where he struggled with his own personal management company. Mr. Amos was in debt from his failing business but enjoyed baking his aunt’s chocolate chip cookies, so he used a modified version of the recipe and got financial help from singers he knew to start advertising and open the first Famous Amos cookie store on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles in 1975. Later in 1998, the Keebler Company purchased the Famous Amos brand, and Mr. Amos continued in his role as the brand's spokesperson. He is currently 84 years old.