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MARK CHURCH, Chief Elections Officer & Assessor-County Clerk-Recorder

Black History Month


black history month


What is Black History Month?


Black History Month was designed to educate people on the pain and suffering throughout history that Blacks encountered to receive equal rights and freedom. Americans have recognized Black History annually ever since 1926 which was first known as “Negro History Week” and then converted to “Black History Month.” Although Blacks have been part of our country's history since the colonial times, it was not until the 20th century that they received a respectable honor in the history books.


What is Voting Rights Act of 1965?

voting rights act of 1965


The Voting Rights Act of 1965 created a huge change for African Americans throughout the South. The Voting Rights Act prohibited states from using literacy tests, interpreting the Constitution. It also ended many other practices used to exclude African Americans from voting. Prior to the Voting Rights Act only about twenty-three percent of Blacks were registered to vote, but by 1969 after the passage of the Voting Rights Act, the number of registered Blacks to vote nearly tripled to sixty-one percent.


African-Americans who've made a difference...


Who is Harriet Tubman?


Harriet Tubman[1820-1913] Harriet Tubman was one of the most well known Underground Rail Road conductors. She was born a slave in Maryland around 1820. At the age of five or six she started to work as a house servant, then at age 13 she began to work on the fields. In 1949 Tubman had great fear that she was going to be sold so she decided to escape the plantation making her way to Pennsylvania. She moved to Philadelphia to get a job and save money to help her family escape slavery. By 1856, the reward for Tubman's capture reached $40,000 due to the number of slaves she helped rescue to freedom.


Who is Rosa Parks?

rosa parks


[1913-2005] Rosa Parks is known as the “Mother of Modern Day Civil Rights Movement” by refusing to give up her bus seat to a white passenger. She was arrested for breaking the Montgomery segregation law that started a boycott of city bus lines that lasted 381 days. This event later led to the 1956 Supreme Court ruling the declaration of demonstration illegal on public buses. Over the years, Rosa Parks received many awards including the Medal of Freedom Award, presented by President Clinton in 1996.


Who is George Washington Carver

George Washington Carver


[1860-1943] George Washington Carver was born in Missouri on the Moses Carver plantation. He was born into slavery. At an early age he developed whooping cough which restricted him to chores involving cooking and sewing. Although education wasn’t an option for slaves, Carver was determined to be come educated, and by doing so he taught himself how to read. At the age of 12 he left home to attend a Black school which consisted of one teacher to 75 students. In his later years he was accepted to Iowa State College where he studied botany, learning about plants and farming. He became the best botany student on campus. He made more than 300 products from peanuts. He even made soap and ink from peanuts. In all, George Washington Carver created 75 products from pecans and including the invention of a building material for walls made from cotton stalks. This incredible scientist left an incredible mark in society.


Who is Maya Angelou?

maya angelo


Maya Angelou was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on April 4, 1928. She is an author, poet, historian, songwriter, playwright, dancer, stage and screen producer, director, performer, singer, and civil rights activist. Maya Angelou is the first black woman director in Hollywood, she has written, produced, directed, and starred in productions for stage, film, and television. In 1971, she wrote the original screenplay and musical score for the film Georgia, Georgia, and was both author and executive producer of a five-part television miniseries, "Three Way Choice." She has also written and produced many prize-winning documentaries, including "Afro-Americans in the Arts," a PBS special for which she received the Golden Eagle Award. Angelou was asked by President Clinton to write and recite a poem for his inauguration ceremony.


Inaugural Poem to President Bill Clinton - January 20, 1993


A Rock, A River, A Tree
Hosts to species long since departed,
Marked the mastodon.
The dinosaur, who left dry tokens
Of their sojourn here
On our planet floor,
Any broad alarm of their hastening doom
Is lost in the gloom of dust and ages.
But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,
Come, you may stand upon my
Back and face your distant destiny,
But seek no haven in my shadow.
I will give you no more hiding place down here.
You, created only a little lower than
The angels, have crouched too long in
The bruising darkness,
Have lain too long
Face down in ignorance.
Your mouths spilling words
Armed for slaughter.
The Rock cries out today, you may stand on me,
But do not hide your face.
Across the wall of the world,
A River sings a beautiful song,
Come rest here by my side.
Each of you a bordered country,
Delicate and strangely made proud,
Yet thrusting perpetually under siege.
Your armed struggles for profit
Have left collars of waste upon
My shore, currents of debris upon my breast.
Yet, today I call you to my riverside,
If you will study war no more. Come,
Clad in peace and I will sing the songs
The Creator gave to me when I and the
Tree and the stone were one.
Before cynicism was a bloody sear across your
Brow and when you yet knew you still
Knew nothing.
The River sings and sings on.
There is a true yearning to respond to
The singing River and the wise Rock.
So say the Asian, the Hispanic, the Jew
The African and Native American, the Sioux,
The Catholic, the Muslim, the French, the Greek
The Irish, the Rabbi, the Priest, the Sheikh,
The Gay, the Straight, the Preacher,
The privileged, the homeless, the Teacher.
They hear. They all hear
The speaking of the Tree.
Today, the first and last of every Tree
Speaks to humankind. Come to me, here beside the River.
Plant yourself beside me, here beside the River.
Each of you, descendant of some passed
On traveler, has been paid for.
You, who gave me my first name, you
Pawnee, Apache and Seneca, you
Cherokee Nation, who rested with me, then
Forced on bloody feet, left me to the employment of
Other seekers--desperate for gain,
Starving for gold.
You, the Turk, the Swede, the German, the Scot ...
You the Ashanti, the Yoruba, the Kru, bought
Sold, stolen, arriving on a nightmare
Praying for a dream.
Here, root yourselves beside me.
I am the Tree planted by the River,
Which will not be moved.
I, the Rock, I the River, I the Tree
I am yours--your Passages have been paid.
Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need
For this bright morning dawning for you.
History, despite its wrenching pain,
Cannot be unlived, and if faced
With courage, need not be lived again.
Lift up your eyes upon
The day breaking for you.
Give birth again
To the dream.
Women, children, men,
Take it into the palms of your hands.
Mold it into the shape of your most
Private need. Sculpt it into
The image of your most public self.
Lift up your hearts
Each new hour holds new chances
For new beginnings.
Do not be wedded forever
To fear, yoked eternally
To brutishness.
The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.
Here, on the pulse of this fine day
You may have the courage
To look up and out upon me, the
Rock, the River, the Tree, your country.
No less to Midas than the mendicant.
No less to you now than the mastodon then.
Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister's eyes, into
Your brother's face, your country
And say simply
Very simply
With hope
Good morning.


Who is Martin Luther King, Jr.?"

Martin Luther King, Jr.


Martin Luther King attended segregated public schools in Georgia, graduating from high school at the age of fifteen; he received the B. A. degree in 1948 from Morehouse College. In 1957, he was elected president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization formed to provide leadership for the civil rights movement. Martin Luther King, Jr. let non-violent marches throughout the South to advance the rights and freedoms of blacks. To this day, Martin Luther King, Jr. remains a powerful force in American history. Unfortunately, on the evening of April 4, 1968, while standing on the balcony of his motel room in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was to lead a protest march in sympathy with striking garbage workers of that city, he was assassinated.



Martin Luther King Jr.:
I have a Dream


Watch Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech - I have a Dream


I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."²

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day -- this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.

Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride,

From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that:

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!


Black Facts



What is now known as Black History Month, was first celebrated on this date as Negro History Week by Carter G. Woodson. It became a month long celebration in 1976.


Today in 1914, artist William Ellisworth is born in Washington, North Carolina. Educated at Syracuse University, he was a student of Florida artist Augusta Savage. His works were exhibited at Atlanta University, the Whitney Museum, the Two Centuries of Black American Art exhibit, Fisk University, Hampton University, the North Carolina Museum of Art and private collectors.


Six time All-Star Bill White was named president of National League IN 1989. Former Saint Louis Cardinals first baseman Bill White is named president of the National League. He is the first African American to head a major sports league. On February 3, 1903; Jackson became the first Negro Heavyweight Champion, The Negro Baseball League founded IN 1920.


Today in 1986, a stamp of Sojourner Truth is issued by the U.S. Postal Service.


Katherine Graham, publisher of the Washington Post, printed the Pentagon Papers which disclosed the lies and cover-up of the Vietnam War.


Henry "Home Run King" Aaron, baseball superstar was born in 1934.


Negro History week originated by Carter G.Woodson is observed for the first time in 1926.


Leon Spinks defeated Muhammad Ali for heavyweight boxing championship. Ali regained the title on September 15 and became the person to win the title three times in 1978. Figure skater Debi Thomas became the first African American to win the Women's Singles of the U.S. National Figure Skating Championship competition, was a pre-med student at Stanford University in 1986.


Baseball Hall of Fame inducts Leroy "Satchel" Paige in 1979.


1946 Georgia-born Jackie Robinson -- major league baseball's first black player -- married Rachel Isum.


Today in 1996, Penn's Baccalaureate Speaker was the Right Reverend Barbara Clementine Harris, a Philadelphian who was the first woman ever to become a bishop in the Anglican Communion.


Birthday of William Felton Russell, better known as "Bill" Russel, he was player-coach of the Boston Celtics basketball team in 1968 and 1969. Russell was born in Monroe, Louisiana in 1934.


The first Black professional basketball team "The Renaissance" organized 1923.


Today in 1867, Morehouse College organized in Augusta, Georgia. The institution was later moved to Atlanta.


Today in 1848, Sarah Roberts barred from white school in Boston. Her father, Benjamin Roberts, filed the first school integration suit on her behalf.


Joe Frazier knocked out Jimmy Ellis in the second round of their New York fight and became the world heavyweight boxing champion in 1970.


James Nathaniel Brown, 63, Pro Football Hall of Fame Fullback, Born February 17, 1936 in St. Simons Island, GA, Michael Jeffrey Jordon, Basketball player, former minor league baseball player, Born New York, New York, February 17, 1963.


Today in 1913, the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority was incorporated at Howard University.


Vonetta Flowers became the first black gold medalist in the history of the Winter Olympic Games. She and partner Jull Brakken won the inagural women's two-person bobsled event in 2000.


Charles Wade Barkley, basketball player, born Leeds, AL, February 20, 1963.


Today in 1987, African Americans in Tampa, Florida rebelled after an African American man was killed by a white police officer while in custody.


Julius Winfield( "Dr.J") Erving, former basketball player, born Roosevelt, NY, Feb 22, 1950.


Baseball catcher Elston Gene Howard was born in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1965, Howard signed a $70,000 contract with the NY Yankees and became the highest paid player in the history of baseball at the time in 1929.


Former world heavyweight boxing champion Jimmy Ellis was born James Albert Ellis in Louisville, Kentucky in 1940. Ellis won the World Boxing Association title after beating Jerry Quarry in April 1968.


Muhammad Ali defeated Sonny Liston for world heavyweight boxing championship in 1964. Boxer Mike Tyson becomes the undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World by defeating challenger Frank Bruno of England in 1989.


Theodore "Georgia Deacon" Flowers wins middleweight boxing title in 1926. On this day, the Kentucky boxer known to all as Cassius Clay, changed his name to Muhammad Ali as he accepted Islam and rejected Christianity. "I believe in the religion of Islam. I believe in Allah and in peace...I'm not a Christian anymore." In 1964.


Figure skater Debi Thomas becomes the first African American to win a medal (bronze) at the winter Olympic Games in 1988.


In 1932, Richard Spikes invents the automatic gear shift.



2011 Celebrations of Black History Month in the Bay Area

(San Francisco Chronicle, 1/30/11)


Looking for a way to celebrate Black History Month? Here is a sampling of events, films, exhibitions and performances taking place throughout the Bay Area:


15th Annual Art of Living Black Art Exhibition

Non-juried exhibition exclusively features regional artists of African descent. Reception 3-5 p.m. Sat. Artists talk noon-2 p.m. Sat. and Feb. 12. Through March 11. Richmond Art Center, 2540 Barrett Ave., Richmond. (510) 620-6772. www.therac.org.


Authors in Conversation

"Harlem of the West: The San Francisco Fillmore Jazz Era." Discussion with authors Lewis Watts and Elizabeth Pepin. 2-4 p.m. Feb. 26. Free with museum admission. Museum of the African Diaspora, 685 Mission St., San Francisco. (415) 358-7200. www.moadsf.org.


Black History Month Kickoff

Join San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, Supervisor Malia Cohen and keynote speakers Bernard and Shirley Kinsey for this annual San Francisco African American Historical and Cultural Society Black History Month kickoff event. The theme for this year's celebratory event is "African Americans and the Civil War." Noon-1 p.m. Thurs. City Hall Rotunda, Civic Center Plaza, San Francisco. (415) 292-6172. www.sfaahcs.org.


Black History Month With the CBS5/CW44/Cable12 News Team

Network and visit with the late-night on-air news team, including Dana King, Ken Bastida, Dennis O'Donnell and Roberta Gonzales as well as behind-the-scenes staff and outside members of the community. 6-8 p.m. Thurs. Reservations required. CBS 5/The CW 44 Cable 12 Studios, 55 Battery St., San Francisco. (415) 362-5550. www.eventbrite.com/event/801651762. www.cbs5.com.


Donald E. Lacy Jr.

"Colorstruck." This one-man show by comedian, actor, writer, filmmaker and San Francisco radio host Donald E. Lacy Jr. uses humor and personal experience to look at racism. 8 p.m. Feb. 17. McKenna Theatre, Creative Arts Bldg., 1600 Holloway Ave., S.F. State University campus, San Francisco. (415) 338-2467. www.creativearts.sfsu.edu.


Family History Day

African American Quilting Traditions creative activities with teaching artist Nicole Dixon. Ask a Genealogist workshop with professional genealogist Lisa Lee. Noon-4 p.m. Feb 19. Free with museum admission. Museum of the African Diaspora, 685 Mission St., San Francisco. (415) 358-7200. www.moadsf.org.


Friday Nights at the de Young: Black History Month Celebration

San Francisco poet laureate devorah major gives a spoken-word performance, Bumpity Thump dances, Lawrence Beamen sings with string quartet and R&B band, DJ Mpenzi spins. Also: hands-on art making and demonstrations including collage art, jewelry making and hair braiding and cocktails. 6-8:45 p.m. Fri. De Young Museum, 50 Tea Garden Drive, Golden Gate Park. (415) 750-3600. www.thinker.org.


Harmony and Melody: A Celebration of Black History

Concert featuring Lawrence Beamen and the Gold Coast Chamber Players. 2 p.m. today at the Lafayette Library, 3491 Mount Diablo Blvd., Lafayette. $15-$30. (925) 284-7404, www.gcplayers.org. Also 8 p.m. Feb 25. 3 p.m. Feb. 26. $15-$30. African American Art and Culture Complex, 762 Fulton St., San Francisco. (415) 771-2376. www.afrosolo.org.


Jazz Art

Draw and paint to live music in honor of Black History Month with India Cooke, violin; Karolyn van Putten, Celtic harp and frame drum; and Henry Mobley, acoustic bass. Their inspiration is Maya Angelou's "Life Doesn't Frighten Me at All" and Ntozake Shange's "I Live in Music." All ages welcome. 1-3 p.m. Feb. 12. Richmond Art Center, 2540 Barrett Ave., Richmond. (510) 620-6772. www.therac.org.


Jetta Martin Dance

"Tribute to Charlie Parker." Performance and panel discussion with the Bay Area performer, teacher and choreographer. Part of the Dance Across the Diaspora series. 2-4 p.m. Feb. 6. Free with museum admission. Museum of the African Diaspora, 685 Mission St., San Francisco. (415) 358-7200. www.moadsf.org.


Macy's Black History Month Fashion Retrospective

"Tribute to Eunice Johnson." In partnership with Ebony and Fashion Fair Cosmetics, Macy's will showcase some of the haute couture designs from the style maven's private collection which were featured in Ebony Fashion Fair shows. The exhibition features designs by designers including Lanvin, Yves Saint Laurent, Vivienne Westwood, Carolina Herrera, others. Feb. 24-28. Macy's Union Square, 170 O'Farrell St., San Francisco. (415) 393-3819. www.macys.com.


One Vision, One Struggle, Many Battlefields

Celebration, discussion and book signing to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Rides and the recent publication of "Hands on the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts by Women in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee." With Bettie Mae Fikes leading group singing, "Freedom Riders" documentary film screening, readings and informal conversation with Jean Wiley, Jane Bond Moore, Cathy Cade, Betita Martinez and Freedom Rider Carol Ruth Silver. 2-5 p.m. Feb 5. Free with museum admission. Museum of the African Diaspora, 685 Mission St., San Francisco. (415) 358-7200. www.moadsf.org.


Shrimp and Grits Taste-off

SFNoir's 10th anniversary fundraiser and Black History month celebration. 6-10 p.m. Feb. 17. $40-$50. Museum of the African Diaspora, 685 Mission St., San Francisco. (415) 358-7200. www.sfnoir.org.


The Skin Quilt Project Film Screening and Discussion

With director Lauren Cross. 6-9 p.m. Feb 18. Free with museum admission. Museum of the African Diaspora, 685 Mission St., San Francisco. (415) 358-7200. www.moadsf.org.



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