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County Council recognizes history and contributions of African-Americans


Metropolitan King County
Council News

County Council recognizes history and contributions of African-Americans


Black History Month celebration of “history of our nation”


The Metropolitan King County Council today celebrated the continuing contributions of African-Americans in the United States and throughout the world by proclaiming the month of February Black History Month in King County.

“In a County renamed for one of the greatest African-Americans of the 20th Century and that uses the image of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr as its logo, it is fitting that we celebrate those men and women—the famous and the nameless—who have played a role in the history of our nation,” said Councilmember Larry Gossett. “Today is also an opportunity to remember the achievements of all the people who have contributed to the greatness of our nation, but have not been recognized in our history books.”

“By recognizing Black History Month, we honor the history and legacy of the African-American experience,” said Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles, co-sponsor of the proclamation. “In celebrating that history, we must also never forget the deprivations and degradations and the struggle to overcome them that are a unique legacy of the lives of African-Americans in this country.”

“Honoring Black History this month is more important today than ever before,” said Council Chair Joe McDermott. “We are at a crossroads where we can and should collectively dedicate ourselves to eradicating the barriers that have for too long been placed in front of people of color. Only in knowing the history can we alter our course.”

African-American History month was the idea of historian and educator Dr. Carter G. Woodson, who hoped to raise awareness of African American's contributions to civilization. As the founder of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, Dr. Woodson created Negro History Week to be celebrated in February, the birth month of Abraham Lincoln and former slave and African American abolitionist Frederick Douglass.

“America was founded on the idea that all people are created equal,” said Vice Chair Reagan Dunn. “Celebrating Black History Month allows us to highlight accomplishments of African-Americans throughout history as well as their continued work in shaping our nation to bring true meaning to the words of our founding fathers.”

“One of the most poignant experiences in my life was meeting Sarah Collins Rudolph, who was gravely wounded in the 1960 Ku Klux Klan bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, that killed her sister and three other little girls. Meeting and talking with Ms. Rudolph about her life was a powerful reminder that history is not just about the past, but forms a foundation for and shapes today's life and times,” said Council Vice Chair Rod Dembowski. “As policymakers who work to improve the lives of everyone in our community, I believe we must know the history of every community that together forms the strong and vibrant fabric of America. Black History Month helps us all learn America's history.”

The first Negro History Week was celebrated in 1926. In 1976, as America celebrated its bicentennial, Negro History Week became Black History Month, a celebration recognized in the U.S. and Canada.

“I’m pleased we’re honoring the history and contributions of African-Americans in our country and in King County. We are enriched by their many influences to our history and culture,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert. “When I was a teacher, I got to teach about Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and eventually wrote a children’s book about him. My dad as a policeman once guarded Dr. King on a trip to San Francisco. So my family appreciates the contributions, leadership and faith of Dr. King and his example.”

“I’m proud to join my colleagues in proclaiming Black History month in King County,” said Councilmember Claudia Balducci. “Among all of the challenges facing us as we work toward becoming a more just and equitable county, this month represents a valuable opportunity to reflect on the central role of African Americans in shaping our country and our community today – a role that has historically been overlooked.”

Members of the Board of the Black Heritage Society of Washington, Inc. were on hand to receive the recognition from the Council.

“We want to thank the County Council for joining us in celebrating the contributions of African-Americans not just in this state, but throughout the world,” said Heritage Society Chair Carol Peoples-Procter. “Ours is a history of many challenges, but also many triumphs, this is an opportunity to recognize and remember those challenges that many in our community are still struggling against.”

Representatives from the Black Heritage Society of Washington, Inc. receive from the
Metropolitan King County Council the proclamation declaring February 2016
as “Black History Month” in King County.




WHEREAS, the United States of America and the nation of Canada have designated the month of February as Black History Month since 1976; and

WHEREAS, Black History Month had its beginnings when famed activist, writer, and preeminent historian Carter G. Woodson influenced the American Historical Society in 1926 to designate the second week of February as “Negro History Week”; and

WHEREAS, Carter G. Woodson, as President of the National Historical Society, chose the month of February because the birthdays of two individuals who were very influential in the lives of African Americans—President Abraham Lincoln, and former slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass—were born in February; and

WHEREAS, Black History Month is a time to remember the important people, events, and contributions of African Americans, historically and currently, not only in the United States, but throughout the world; and

WHEREAS, the contributions and cultural innovations created by African Americans in the United States have been meaningful and beneficial to the development of our nation; and

WHEREAS, an accurate analysis of American history clearly suggests that all people have contributed to the greatness of our nation, often under the most difficult of circumstances, without proper recognition and acknowledgement in our history books; and

WHEREAS, in 1986, King County was redesignated in honor of our country’s foremost civil rights leader, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the county logo bears his image;

NOW, THEREFORE, we, the Metropolitan King County Council, proclaim the month of February 2016 as



in Martin Luther King, Jr. County and ask all residents to join us in commemorating the countless contributions of African Americans to our nation and the world.

DATED this sixteenth day of February, 2016.




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