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article imageFive things to know about Black History Month 2017

By Jack Derricourt     Feb 1, 2017 in Politics
February is Black History Month in the U.S. and Canada, and this year institutions and individuals alike will highlight the contributions of black Americans and Canadians.
The origin of Black History Month
The annual observance was started by historian Carter G. Woodson as ‘Negro History Week’ in 1926 to promote black history and the achievements of African Americans. The initial week-long event was started in February to coincide with the birthdays of self-liberated slave, esteemed abolitionist activist and author Frederick Douglass, and the Great Emancipator Abraham Lincoln. The celebration turned into a full month in the 70s, and was then adopted as a U.S. wide event in 1976 under President Gerald Ford. Canada adopted the month-long observance in 1995, after the motion was introduced to the House of Commons by Jean Agustine, the country's first black member of parliament.
Twitter launches a new chatbot
This year, Twitter will feature a chatbot to: highlight black history facts, feature events going on in several American cities, advocate for self-care, and to demostrate the accomplishments of black developers and creators.
Google highlights Edmonia Lewis
Google paid tribute to Edmonia Lewis, the first esteemed black sculptor in America, in their search bar illustration on February 1st. She was of mixed race — part African American and part Mississauga Ojibwe —, was born Greenbush, New York and spent most of her career in Rome, Italy. She was a professional sculptor with a large body of work, including The Death of Cleopatra, featured in the Google search bar illustration. Google also offers a virtual tour of important civil rights sites.
Google highlights the accomplishments of black sculptor Edmonia Lewis
Google highlights the accomplishments of black sculptor Edmonia Lewis
The 115th congress has the most African American members in history
A piece of current history going on is important to recognize. The first African American members of Congress were Senator Hiram Revels and Representative Joseph Rainey in 1870. Since then, 153 African Americans have served in crucial roles in the federal government. There are currently 49 black representatives and senators in the Congress, an historic number worth building upon as communities focus on future strategies and commitments in February. Canada's parliament is also currently the most diverse it has ever been.
Black History month is controversial
As renowned actor Morgan Freeman said in 2005, "I don't want a black history month. Black history is American history." White Americans and Canadians don’t relegate their history to a single month in the year, and many feel that African Americans shouldn’t have to either. Things may change but it remains important to embrace the celebration and acknowledgement of the contributions of black Americans and Canadians, and to renew our commitment towards the inclusion of past and present citizens of colour throughout the year.
More about Black history month, Google, Twitter, Edmonia Lewis, Frederick Douglass
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