Honoring Black History Month in 2018

February 1, 2018

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Beginning on the first of February each year, our nation spends the month honoring the history and contributions of African Americans. The theme for Black History Month 2018 is “African Americans in Times of War”, spotlighting the brave men and women who served their country in the armed forces, especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice while protecting the American principles of freedom and democracy.

More than 2.5 million black men registered for the draft during World War II and one million served as draftees or volunteers in all branches of the armed forces. A majority of black men were assigned to segregated combat groups a decade before the American civil rights movement even started. Recognition of the African-American contribution to the war effort would eventually lay the foundation for the civil rights protests of the 1950s and 60s.

Nana Ekua-Hammond’s article “Christianity’s African Roots” discusses the relationship between Blacks and Christianity, and its influence on civil rights.

The Black church has historically doubled as a religious organization and innovation center for social and political activism. Black churches helped to generate the first Black banks and the first Black-owned life insurance company. The leaders of Black churches originated from African priests and were viewed as leaders of the community. In the 19th century, they were the most educated members of the community and emerged as political leaders after the Civil War.

The first Black senator elected to congress was Reverend Hiram Revels of Mississippi. In addition, Reverend Jesse Jackson Sr. and Reverend Al Sharpton both ran for President, Pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem: Representative Adam Clayton Powell, Pennsylvania politician Reverend Bill Gray, and former Congressman Reverend Floyd Flake.

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