Thursday, Jan. 31, 2008

Community set to mark Black History Month

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As the calendar turns to February, local churches and organizations are getting ready to celebrate Black History Month with cultural events, lectures and discussions.

Black History Month has roots in many important milestones in African-American history that have often occurred during the month of February. These include the passage of the 15th Amendment in 1870 that granted blacks the right to vote and the founding of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) by black and white Americans in 1909.

In February 1960, the civil rights movement reached a seminal moment when black college students from Greensboro, N.C., organized a sit-in at a Woolworth’s lunch counter.

Here in Frederick County, the focus on local black history will take center stage during two events at the C. Burr Artz Public Library in Frederick and at Quinn Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church. The church is planning discussions on William Paul Quinn, the church’s fourth bishop.

At Hood College in Frederick, the Frederick County chapter of the NAACP has partnered with the college to present different lectures on black politics and leaders.

While these lectures occur during Black History Month, they are also part of a larger, semester-long schedule of programs that examine race relations in honor of the 40th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in April.

Guy Djoken, president of the Frederick County NAACP, said Black History Month is an opportunity for all to learn about civil rights issues and the contributions of African Americans.

The civil rights organization makes an effort to educate and interact with residents and especially with young people at schools and churches, Djoken said.

‘‘We are giving the new generation an opportunity to learn more and be proud that they have the rights of any other person in this country,” he said. ‘‘It’s important to have a moment in the year to focus on the message.”