Sunday, February 9, 2014

February - Black History Month

The celebration of black history began in 1926 when Dr. Carter G. Woodson, a Harvard Ph.D., initiated ‘Negro History Week’. February was chosen because it included the birthdays of Fredrick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln. In 1976, the week-long observance was extended to the entire month of February in order to have enough time for the celebratory programs and activities.

The history of African Americans is an integral part of the history of America. These courageous and talented people broke barriers and achieved great success, often despite great odds.

Each week on Monday during the month of February, WWN will highlight African American men and women who have made and continue to make a lasting contribution to our American history.

(We will begin each week with a highlight of African American inventors; and each Friday, highlight African Americans of Winston County).

Week of Feb 10-14

Charles Drew 

Known for his pioneering work in blood storage, surgeon and scientist, Dr. Charles Drew is credited with the invention of the blood bank; a process which has revolutionized the medical profession and given millions of individuals a second chance at life. In an era of ubiquitous racial discrimination, Drew managed to achieve an extremely high level of education, earning his medical degree at McGill university in Canada and going on to publish a groundbreaking doctoral dissertation entitled "Banked Blood: a study in blood preservation", in 1940. Today, thousands of vital blood transfusion are performed each day in hospitals around the world because of the life and work of Dr. Charles Drew.

Nikky Finney

Celebrated poet Nikky Finney was born in Conway, South Carolina, the daughter of an attorney and teacher, both civil rights activists. Ms. Finney’s fourth book of poetry, "Head Off and Split", was awarded the 2011 National Book Award for Poetry. An alumna of Talladega College and Atlanta University, Ms. Finney is the Guy Davenport Endowed Professor in English and Creative Writing at the University of Kentucky. Her poems have been described as powerful and warm, like her southern roots, and provide glimpses into the human adventures of birth, death, family, violence, sexuality, and relationship, exploring the soul of human community.

The African American Civil War Soldiers’ Memorial was dedicated on July 18, 1998 in Washington, D.C. The sculpture stands 10 feet tall and features uniformed black soldiers and a sailor poised to leave home. It was designed by Ed Hamilton of Louisville, KY and was the first major art piece by a black sculptor to be placed on federal land anywhere in the District of Columbia. The wall of honor lists the names of 209,145 United States colored troops (USTC) who served in the Civil War. The names also include the 7,000 white officers who served with the United States colored troops.
Charlie Sifford

A golfer, the first black to win a Professor Golfer Association (PGA) tournament and the first black elected into the World Golf Hall of Fame on April 22, 2004. Sifford cracked the PGA tour’s white only clause in 1961 and was the first black member to win on tour in 1967. Born in North Carolina on June 2, 1922, Sifford learned at an early age the value of golf. As a 10 year-old caddy, he assisted golfers in improving their games. By the age of 17, Sifford was better than most of the golfers at the country club. During his quest to overcome the segregation of the PGA, he weathered death threats, racist fans and lack of sponsorship. He chronicled the social pressure and discrimination he encountered in the book, "Just Let Me Play."

L.M.Claiborne, Jr.

Chief L.M. Claiborne, Jr. was born on January 22, 1957, in Holmes County (Chula, MS). He has been the Chief of Police of the Louisville (MS) Police Department since September 2006 and is the first African American to do so in a permanent position. He served as the director of training and exercises for the Mississippi Department of Public Safety Homeland Security from January 2004-August 2006. Between 1980 and 2000, he served in various law enforcement positions with the Mississippi Highway Patrol which included law enforcement officer, crime scene investigator, and director of training to name a few. Chief Claiborne was director of Mississippi Highway Patrol/Assistant Commissioner of Public Safety where he was the first African American to do so. Chief Claiborne and his family are members of the Still Valley M.B. Church where he serves as a deacon, trustee and Sunday school teacher.