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‘Black History Month reflects on contribution, achievements of blacks in US’

Mar 5, 2012, 2:10 PM | Article By: Sainey M.K. Marenah

The United States embassy in Banjul recently reflected and honoured the contributions and achievements of African Americans towards the development of the US in respect of an event known as Black History Month.

Held at the Management Development Institute in Kanifing, the event, among others, featured plays, theatrical performances by Balofong literary group, live music and a showcase of artistic works.

The group performed a live play about Africa culture, how the blacks changed the American culture to what it is today, and how our grandparents where shipped to the US to work on the plantations.

Black History Month, originally called Negro History Week, was started in 1926 by an African-American historian, Carter G. Woodson.

The month of February was chosen because of historical events that had taken place in February that had significant impact, such as the 15th Amendment, which gave Blacks the right to vote. It is also the birth month of President Abraham Lincoln.

The contributions of African Americans were rarely mentioned in history until Woodson initiated the study of Negro history. Traditionally, American history books rarely mentioned Black Americans.

Many modern conveniences and necessities are directly related to, or derivative of, the inventions of black inventors: blood banks, the refrigerator, the electric trolley, the dust pan, comb, mop, brush, clothes dryer,  lawn mower, traffic signals, the pen and the pencil sharpener and lots of other inventions.

The month of February is marked annually by Americans in honour of transformational achievements by African-Americans in all walks of American life: from Martin Luther King Jr., an icon of the civil rights movement, to the historic election and inauguration of the first African-American President of the United States of America, Barack H. Obama.

“Black History Month is a time of contemplation and celebration. It reaffirms the United States’ link to Africa, and commemorates the social, economic, cultural and political contributions of African Americans who, despite slavery and prejudice, helped build and continue to shape our country today,” United States chief diplomat in The Gambia, Pamela Ann White said.

Every year in February, the United States celebrates Black History Month. It is a chance to reflect on the history, contributions and achievements by African-Americans throughout the country’s existence.

“Accomplishments of Black Americans should be celebrated all year long; however, February is the month when we focus on their contributions to the development of American society,” Ambassador White said in a brief statement she delivered at the celebration.

She added: “The black population has contributed significantly towards today’s America. Then the black society is segregated in schools, workplaces, and many places, but today America has the first black African-American president.”

The Point newspaper sounded the opinions of some African-Americans at the celebrations. Those interviewed included Tula Orum, US Embassy Public Affairs Officer.

She said: “Black history means to me the time to celebrate the achievements, to remember our history, and those who fought for freedom. Blacks have contributed and help better our country. So it’s time to celebrate!”

She said America was the first country to elect a black president when majority of her population are not black Americans.

For her part, the Nigerian High Commissioner to The Gambia, Hon. Madam Esther John Adu, who feels proud to be associated with such celebrations, said the event “is worth celebrating”.

High Commissioner Adu paid tribute and homage to those who fought for freedom, saying the contribution of African-Americans to the growth and development of the US is remarkable and noticeable.

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