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Sen. Begich Commemorates African American History Month

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich is asking all Alaskans to join in commemorating February 2010 as African American History Month.

Throughout the years, the focus of the yearly, month-long event has been on promotion, preservation and research of Black history in America. Each year the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) sets the theme for the month.  For 2010 the theme is "The History of Black Economic Empowerment." According to the Association, "The need for economic development has been a central element of black life." 

"Focusing on economic empowerment is particularly appropriate given the times we are in. African Americans had to overcome bias in the past to advance economically", said Sen. Begich. "Today all Americans face tough economic times due in large part to the excesses of the financial industry. My focus is to help businesses create good, steady jobs for all Alaskans and Americans. The desire for economic stability is not exclusive to the African American community, but any remaining barriers in their pursuit of it must be addressed."

In an Executive Proclamation declaring February as National African American History Month, President Obama "...calls upon us to honor the African Americans who overcame injustice and inequality to achieve financial independence and the security of self empowerment that comes with it. This month, we recognize the courage and tenacity of so many hard-working Americans whose legacies are woven into the fabric of our Nation."

"While we dedicate one month to black history and celebrate one theme, we must also remember the many other contributions made by African Americans during our nation's history." Sen. Begich added. 

Sen. Begich also noted that the National Urban League, which endeavors to provide economic empowerment, educational opportunities and the guarantee of civil rights for African Americans, is celebrating its 100th year anniversary in 2010.

The celebration of Black History Month began as Black History Week in 1920 at the urging of Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the son of former slaves who became the second African-American to earn a Ph. D. from Harvard University. The week chosen in February was the second one to honor the births of President Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, renowned black abolitionist, both of whom had a momentous and lasting influence in the fight for equality for African Americans.

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