Nearly 90 years ago, the seed for Black History Month was planted by historian and author Carter G. Woodson, who in February 1926 sought to remember and celebrate the achievements of blacks through Negro History Week.
Woodson — founder of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, now known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) — chose the week in February because it included the birthday of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, two key figures in the history of African Americans, The Library of Congress wrote.
The prominence of the celebration increased in 1975 when Gerald Ford issued a presidential message on the observance of Black History Week. A year later, the commemoration was expanded by the ASALH to Black History Month.
Finally, in 1986, Congress passed law designating February as National Black History Month — 60 years after Woodson first created Negro History Week.
In 2013, Black History Month remains an important celebration for the black community to honor its past and plan for its future, said Preston Mack, a member of Trinity African Methodist Episcopal Church in Springfield, which will host its seventh annual Black History Luncheon this weekend.
“We’re inspiring our youth to understand some of the accomplishments and struggles that the black community and families have faced in the past to encourage them to strive in their own accomplishments for a better future,” Mack said.
Trinity A.M.E. Church will host its luncheon featuring the Project Jericho Drum Corp and television personality Shannon Sims from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday at United Senior Services, 101 S. Fountain Ave.
Tickets are available for a $20 donation. For tickets and more information, call 937-325-1372.
A handful of other events are planned in and around Clark and Champaign counties throughout the month:
Springfield/Clark County Baseball Hall of Fame
Talkin’ Baseball: Springfield native and Sinclair Community College Vice President Michael Carter will give a presentation on the subject and have some of his collection of Negro League baseball memorabilia at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the National Parks and Recreation District Trail Administration Building, 1301 Mitchell Blvd. Participants are encouraged to bring a baseball book to exchange in a free book exchange. It’s presented by the Hall of Fame and National Trail. For more information, email email@example.com.
About more than a Month: James Burnett, an assistant professor at Urbana University, will discuss one man’s quest to end Black History Month from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the Lewis and Jean Moore Center for Mathematics and Science Honda Lecture Hall on campus, 579 College Way. For more information, visit www.urbana.edu/news/university/161
Effects of Jim Crow: An open forum moderated by Ruth Thompson-Miller, professor of sociology at the University of Dayton, at 7 p.m. Feb. 11 in the Bayley Auditorium on campus, 200 W. Ward St.
Race and Identity in America: 8 p.m. Feb 19 in Founders Pub pub on campus.
Clark County Park District
Portrayal of American Revolutionary Era poet Phillis Wheatley: Sandra Quick, a professional teaching artist, will portray Wheatley, the first African American poet to publish a volume of poetry, in a living history 20th century radio interview at 7 p.m. Feb. 12 the Davidson Interpretive Center, 5638 Lower Valley Pike. Quick will be in costume and character as Wheatley, a slave, poet and negro woman, with Bill Smith as the radio announcer. Following the program, Quick will sell and sign copies of her first book for sale, Our History Awakens: Creating My Living History Avatar.
Clark State Performing Arts Center
The Cooke Book: The music of soul singer Sam Cooke as performed by Darrian Ford at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 15 at Kuss Auditorium, 300 S. Fountain Ave. A lobby party begins at 6 p.m. with a cash bar and free appetizers. Tickets are $30 for adults, $24 for seniors and $15 for students by phone at 937-328-3874 or online at http://pac.clarkstate.edu/the_cooke_book.php
Second Missionary Baptist Church
Annual Take-Out Soul Food Dinner: Fried fish, chicken, sweet potatoes, cole slaw, baked beans, fresh greens, corn bread, sweet potato pie and more from noon until sold out on Feb. 23 at the church, 615 S. Wittenberg Ave. Meals are $8. For more information, call 937-360-1589.
Clark State Community College
Soul Food Sampling: Hosted by Clark State’s Diversity Council at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 28 at the Hollenbeck Bayley Creative Arts and Conference Center, 275 S. Limestone St.
Tours: A safe station on the Underground Railroad in the 1850s hosts tours by phone, generally during warmer months from April to October. To schedule a tour, call Gammon House Committee Chairwoman Betty Grimes at 937-322-8359.