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February marks the celebration of African American History Month.

Voorhees Mayor Mignogna

Mayor’s Column

February marks the celebration of African American History Month.

Americans have recognized African American History Month annually since 1926. It was pioneered by Dr. Carter Woodson and originally called Negro History Week. Born to parents of former slaves, Woodson spent his childhood working in the Kentucky coal mines and enrolled in high school at age 20. He graduated within two years and later went on to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard.

Woodson was disturbed to find in his studies that history books largely ignored the accomplishments of African Americans and took on the challenge of writing them into the nation’s history. He established the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, now called the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History (ASALH) in 1915, and a year later founded the widely respected Journal of Negro History. In 1926, he launched Negro History Week as an initiative to bring national attention to the contributions of African Americans throughout American History.

Woodson chose the second week of February for the celebration since it marked the birthdays of two men who greatly influenced the African American population, Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.

By the time of Woodson’s death in 1950, Negro History Week had become a central part of African American life and substantial progress had been made in bringing more Americans to appreciate the celebration. At mid-century, mayors of cities nationwide issued proclamations noting Negro History Week.

The Black Awakening of the 1960s dramatically expanded the consciousness of African Americans about the importance of their history, and the Civil Rights movement focused Americans of all color on the subject of the contributions of African Americans to our history and culture.

The celebration was expanded to a month in 1976, the nation’s bicentennial. President Gerald Ford urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

A half century after the first celebration, ASALH held the first African American History Month. By this time, the entire nation had come to recognize the importance of African American history in the drama of the American story. Since then, each American president has issued African American History Month proclamations.

When Carter G. Woodson established Negro History week in 1926, he realized the importance of providing a theme to focus the attention of the public. The theme for 2022 focuses on the importance of Black Health and Wellness. This theme acknowledges the legacy of not only black scholars and medical practitioners in Western medicine, but also other ways of healing throughout the African experience. The 2022 theme considers healthy activities and initiatives that black communities have undertaken.


** Voorhees Township’s Second Annual Holiday House Decorating Contest winners are: The Salemno Family at 35 Peregrine Drive won the Clark Griswold Award, the Cohen Family at 24 Radcliffe Drive won the Most Creative Award and the Keller Family at 42 Simsbury Drive won the Most Original Award. Thank you to all who participated in helping to spread holiday cheer.

** The Voorhees Breakfast Rotary Club has changed the date for their annual Voorhees Township Community Service Awards Dinner to Thursday, March 8 at 6 p.m. at Lucien’s Distinguished Catering in Berlin. The Voorhees Breakfast Rotary Club will honor the 2021  Businessperson the Year, the Voorhees Citizens of the Year and the Voorhees Selfless Student of the Year. For more information and to purchase tickets, go to Voorheesbreakfastrotary.org.

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