Every February marks the beginning of Black History Month in the United States and Canada. Created in 1976 by Afro-Americans for the Study of Afro-American Life and History, Black History Month was an expansion from Negro History Week. Carter G. Woodson, the director of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, chose the second week in February as Negro History Week. Woodson earned his PhD from Harvard and was the son of former slaves. In his studies, he was troubled to find no mention of African American contributions to American history. To call attention to these contributions he dedicated a week to the celebration of the people and events throughout African American History. The second week of February was chosen in order to incorporate the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglass.
These birthdays are not the only significance February holds. On Feb. 23, 1868, civil rights leader W.E.B. DuBois was born. He was also the co-founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) which was created on Feb. 12, 1909. The 15th amendment, which granted blacks the right to vote, was passed on Feb. 3, 1870. Hiram R. Revels, the first black senator, was sworn into office on Feb. 25, 1870.
This year at Tech, the African American Student Union (AASU) has a variety of activities planned for Black History Month. AASU is a student organization whose mission is to improve the Black experience at Tech by providing uplifting and entertaining events while exchanging integral knowledge and culture to the entire student body.
Founded in 1968, AASU was formerly called the Georgia Tech Afro-American Association. Its purpose was to provide support for black students on campus. One of their major accomplishments was establishing the Office of Minority Educational Development in 1980. It wasn’t until 1993 that they changed their name to the African American Student Union.
“We challenge each student to improve themselves through professional, social and personal achievement, thereby positively impacting the community,” said Candace Mitchell, a second-year Computer Science major who is the Black History co-chair for the AASU. “We received the honorable recognition as Burdell’s Best Organization of the Year for 2007, and we are currently celebrating our 40th anniversary on campus this year.”
Although we’re already halfway through February, the AASU still has a lot of events planned for the rest of the month. Join them on Thursday Feb. 21 for the Black Arts Festival from 3-6 pm in the Piedmont room. That Saturday, Feb. 23, there will be a Black History Month celebration with Mayor Shirley Franklin beginning at 2pm in the Student Center Ballroom.
The weekly AASU meeting will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 26 in the Student Center Theater beginning at 11am. It will feature a discussion about the history of black Georgia Tech students. Thursday, Feb. 28, the AASU will host a series of speakers. From 4-5:30pm at the Library-Neely room, David Tereshchuk will speak about the Rosewood Massacre, a documentary he wrote for ABC news and the Discovery Channel. At 6 p.m. in the Alumni House, African American scholar and author Anthony Browder will be discussing the GT Idea.
“Black History is normally recognized during the month of February, but we strive to honor and uplift our heritage throughout the entire year,” Mitchell said.
“African-Americans have contributed immensely to American culture. Our innovative efforts and the great measures taken by our ancestors have advanced the way the world works today. It is important for other cultures to be aware of Black History because there is a great chance that it impacts your life in some way every day. I encourage the entire student body of Georgia Tech to be open-minded and take that further step of being involved in the awareness of Black culture,” Mitchell said.
To learn more about Black History Month and the events that will take place at Tech, visit http://cyberbuzz.gatech.edu/aasu/. perspective.