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Black History Month

02/01/2020

WHEREAS, in 1926, famous historian Dr. Carter G. Woodson, a native Virginian, established what would become Black History Month to bring special awareness of African American accomplishments and contributions to American history; and

WHEREAS, African Americans have contributed to the rich fabric and diversity of our Commonwealth and have made significant strides in civil rights, law, medicine, technology, business, food, music, literature, education, sports, entertainment, journalism and the arts; and

WHEREAS, in 1619, the first documented enslaved Africans arrived at the English colonies at Old Point Comfort, Virginia, on the English ships White Lion and Treasurer, and these individuals were sold in exchange for provisions, while others were transported to Jamestown, where they were sold; and 

WHEREAS, between 1670 and 1865, Virginia’s enslaved population expanded to 550,000 individuals, which constituted one third of the Commonwealth’s population; and

WHEREAS, between 1863 and 1865, hundreds of black men fought in the American Civil War and died as enlisted men in the United States Colored Troops, seeking life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as a free people; and

WHEREAS, after 1865, and the ratification of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, the complete freedom and civil rights granted to previously enslaved men, women, and children was subverted by brutal Jim Crow laws, preventing their ability to live as fully free citizens and pursue life, liberty and happiness as guaranteed to white citizens; and

WHEREAS, between 1867 and 1890, African American men were given the right to vote for and to be elected delegates to the Virginia Constitutional Convention, and nearly 100 African American men won election to the convention, the House of Delegates and the Senate of Virginia, and hundreds more as workers in city, county and federal government offices; and

WHEREAS, between 1954 and 1968, African American activists, in particular women, spearheaded the Civil Rights Movement, fought for social justice, constitutional rights, organized sit-ins, workshops, boycotts, and grassroots campaigns; and

WHEREAS, attacks on the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments continue to persist in the 21st century for African Americans, and the Commonwealth of Virginia devotes its citizenry and resources to fulfilling the promises of the Emancipation Proclamation and the U.S. Constitution; and

WHEREAS, today, African Americans continue to make gains in public office, education, and professional fields, and as entrepreneurs, as well as fight for an inclusive vision of liberty, justice, and equality for all; and

WHEREAS, the Commonwealth of Virginia will join with the nation in celebrating the 94th National Black History Month by honoring the essential contributions, sacrifices, and accomplishments African American and black people have made to the U.S. as part of American history;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Ralph S. Northam, do hereby recognize February 2020 as BLACK HISTORY MONTH in our COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, and I call this observance to the attention of all our citizens.