Home / 

Black History Month

Union County College Celebrates Black History Month February 2017

Black History Month began as Negro History Week in the mid 1920’s. It occurs annually during the month of February to honor the legacies of Abraham Lincoln (born February 12, 1809), Frederick Douglass (born February 14, 1817) and their contemporary counterpart Dr. Martian Luther King Jr., a notable 20th century civil rights activist.  Black History Month celebrates the numerous contributions of African Americans to American history.
Black History month is a time to reflect on the historic trials and tribulations of Black Americans in the United States of America.  It is a time to reflect on the resilience and accomplishments of a people torn from their homeland and forced to endure centuries of bitter bondage.  It is a time to celebrate dreams realized and dreams yet to be realized. Black History Month is a time to rejoice in the progress America has made and a time to dream of what progress this great nation can continue to make for all Americans.

Black History Months Events at Union County College TBA

Pivotal Moments in the Civil Rights Movement:

More than fifty years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his historic "I Have a Dream" speech at the March on Washington held in Washington, DC, on August 28, 1963. Black people marched, held sit-ins as a sign of peaceful protest and received positive responses from their actions.

Here are some facts about the 1963 March on Washington:
  1. The March on Washington occurred as a result of the frustrations experienced by a lack of civil rights given to the black people in the US.
  2. The march was officially called "March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.”
  3. The idea for the March was already begun prior to the murder of Medgar Evers on June 12, 1963, which was the same day President Kennedy made a nationally televised address calling for more civil rights.
  4. Just two days before the march, the sound system was sabotaged, and this would prevent everyone from hearing the schedule speakers, including Dr. King. However, Attorney General Robert Kennedy enlisted the Army Corps of Engineers to fix the system in time for the march.
  5. Mahalia Jackson who attended the March as a singer, learned of Dr. King’s dream and urged him to include it in his speech. The result was Dr. King’s now well-known “I Have a Dream” speech.
  6. More than 250,000 people attended the event and more than 60,000 were Caucasian.
  7. W.E.B. DuBois, the co-founder of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People NAACP, died one day before the march at the age of 95.
  8. Dr. King opened his speech stating that he was happy to join the crowd in what would "go down as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.”
The following changes came about as a result of the March on Washington.

  • Dr. King’s speech and the march were aired on TV and radio, and it was the first time millions of Americans heard him speak. Dr. King became the voice of the civil rights movement.
  • In September 1963, in Birmingham, Alabama, a bomb blew up four little black girls in the Sixteenth St. Baptist Church. Dr. King, devastated by the tragedy, contacted President Kennedy to let him know he was going to Birmingham to ensure a non-violent reaction to the bombing. President Kennedy sent FBI agents and bomb experts to investigate the bombing.
  • In November 1963- President Kennedy was assassinated.
  • Five days later, President Johnson asked Congress to pass the Civil Rights Bill to honor President Kennedy. Congress agreed and in July 1964, President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, with Dr. King by his side.
  •  Although slavery may have come to an end officially on paper in 1863, it took another 100 years before this freedom was realized.
Highlights of the Civil Rights Act of 1964:
  • Anyone could register to vote and literacy tests could still be given.
  • Discrimination in public places was outlawed.
  • States could lose funding for programs that practiced discrimination.
After Dr. King’s speech at the march, he continued to advocate for civil rights for all. Here are other significant dates of his legacy and in the civil rights movement:
In 1964, Dr. King received the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolence.

On March 7, 1965, a march to demand voting rights peacefully was held in Montgomery, Alabama. Sadly this event ended in a violent attack on the marchers by State Troopers.

Two days later, on March 9, 1965, Dr. King led a march with approximately 1500 people from Selma toward Montgomery, but they had to turn back in order to avoid innocent deaths by State Troopers once again.

On March 21, 1965, Dr. King received word that President Johnson gave the protesters a right to march without fear of being murdered and the fire was lit. People from all denominations and races joined together to march to Montgomery.

In August 1965, President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law. This is a landmark piece of federal legislation that prohibits discrimination in voting. As a result, literacy tests were no longer used to disfranchise minorities.

In February 1965, Malcolm X was murdered.

On August 11, 1965, a black man named Frye, and his brother, were arrested for driving dangerously by highway police. When the men were stopped and questioned, a crowd gathered and grew angry with what they saw. The crowd began to riot and it lasted for six days.

From September 1965 to the spring of 1968, Dr. King focused his energies on establishing better employment opportunities for minorities. He believed that the root of the frustration felt by blacks and other minorities was the result of poverty and the lack of quality employment.

Dr. King planned a march in the spring of 1968 to Washington, DC to put pressure on Congress to pass laws that would equalize the employment market.

On April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee.

On November 2, 1983, President Ronald Regan signed a bill to create a federal holiday to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The first Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was first observed on January 20, 1986. In 1992, President George H.W. Bush established a proclamation that stated the holiday would be celebrated on the third Monday of January each year, near the time of King’s birthday. It was on January 17, 2000, that Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was observed in all 50 U.S. states.

The community of Union County College remembers Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and continues to emulate his dream for all mankind.

Black History Month Facts:

  • Feb. 10th- Andrew Brimmer appointed 1st Black governor of the Federal Reserve Board by President Johnson -1966
  • Feb. 11- Nelson Mandela released from S. A. Prison after 27 years - 1990
  • Feb. 12- NAACP founded in New York City - 1909
  • Feb. 13- Renaissance, the first black pro basketball team formed - 1923
  • Feb. 14- Frederick Douglass, abolitionist born 1817- Morehouse College HBI- Organized in Augusta Georgia - 1867
  • Feb. 15- New Jersey was the last northern State to abolish Slavery - 1804
  • Feb. 16- Frederick Douglass elected president of the Freedman's Bank and Trust - 1874
  • Feb. 17- Michael Jordan's birthday - 1963
  • Feb. 18- Shani Davis became the first Black American to win the individual goal medal for long speed skating at the Winter Olympics - 2006
  • Feb. 19- W.E.B. DuBois organized the first Pan-African Congress in Paris, France - 1919
  • Feb. 20- Sidney Poitier born in Miami, Florida - 1927
  • Feb. 21- Malcolm X, assassinated in Manhattan, New York City - 1965
  • Feb. 22- DJ Jazzy Jeff & Fresh Prince won the first Rap Grammy, for the single, "Parents Just Don't Understand" - 1989
  • Feb. 23- W.E.B. DuBois born 1868
  • Feb. 24- Rebecca L. Crumpler, is the first Black woman to receive a M.D. Degree - 1864
  • Feb. 25- Hiram Revels becomes the first Black US Senator - 1879
  • Feb. 26- Theodore "Georgia Deacon" Flowers is the first Black Middle-weight boxing champion - 1926
  • Feb. 27- Debi Thomas, is the first Black figure skater to win a metal in the Winter Olympics - 1988
  • Feb. 28- Richard Spikes invented the automatic great shift - 1932
  • Feb. 29- Hattie McDaniel was the first Black woman to win an Oscar for her role in "Gone With the Wind"- 1940
Copyright © 1997-2015 Union County College
1033 Springfield Avenue
Cranford, NJ 07016 (908) 709-7000 webmaster@ucc.edu
Accredited by The Middle States Commission on Higher Education