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Black history month: celebrating on a local level in Fayetteville

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Black History Month, as a nationwide celebration, is the fruitful vision of Dr. Carter G. Woodson, founder of the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History. In February, 1926, the organization instituted "Negro History Week" to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. In 1976, fifty years after the first celebration, the Association used its influence to institutionalize the shifts from Negro History Week to Black History Month.

Since the mid-1970s, every American president, Democrat and Republican, has issued
proclamations endorsing the Association’s annual theme. This year’s theme is “Civil Rights in America.” Click here to read this year’s proclamation:

Black History is an important celebration on a local level right here in Fayetteville, NC, the home of Fayetteville State University. As one of the premier Historically Black Institutions in the nation, Fayetteville State began when seven prominent African-American men in the community pooled $136 to purchase two lots for the first building that housed the Howard School. In April 1869 the building was dedicated in honor of the Freedman’s Bureau chief, General O. O. Howard.

The first principal of the school was Robert Harris. Upon the death of Harris in 1880, Charles W. Chesnutt (1858–1932), son of one of the founders and a former student, was appointed principal of what had become known as the State Colored Normal School.

Chesnutt, as one of the first black short story writers and novelists to pursue writing as a career, was widely known as a major innovator among literary realists who probed the color line in American life. As writer of mixed racial descent, Chesnutt provided insight into various perspectives along America’s color line. His writings included short stories, essays, poems, and a biography of Frederick Douglass. His writings were noted for being courageous and insightful. The United States Postal Service paid tribute to Chesnutt as the 2008 Black Heritage stamp honoree.

Local Celebration:

New Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, 170 Bethel Church Road, St. Pauls, NC, presents a celebration of Black History in poetry: “My soul looks back…all the way back and wonders.” At 4 p.m. February 15, 2014.

Featured speaker will Dr. Lonnell Johnson, adjunct professor at Carolina College of Biblical Studies and Fayetteville State University. He also serves as Christian Spirituality Examiner for Fayetteville on Examiner.com.

The event is open to the public at no charge.

Check out this related article with a slide show of Black Heritage Stamps:

Black heritage series: Celebrating black history through postage stamps

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