Celebrate Black History Month

New York, NY - February 16, 2007 - As you know, February is Black History Month. The Liberty is proud to join people all over the country in celebrating the achievements and contributions of African-Americans. In doing so, it is important to recognize what has brought us to this point in time and why we devote a month to this heritage.

"It means an entire month for me and my country to celebrate the numerous contributions that black people have bestowed upon this great nation," said Liberty center Barb Farris. "Hopefully it will bring us one day to a truly color-free society."

Black History Month can be traced all the way back to 1926, when Dr. Carter G. Woodson established Negro History Week. The Harvard scholar, a child of former slaves, was disturbed by the lack of black Americans in history books. So he made it his life's work to make sure that black history was accurately documented. In February of 1926, he initiated Negro History Week to bring national attention to the contributions and accomplishment of black people throughout American history. Dr. Woodson chose the second week in February for his celebration in honor of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln - two men who greatly affected the black American population.

"Black History Month means a lot to me. It allows people to be aware of the struggles that our ancestors had to endure to give me and my generation the opportunities we have today," stated Liberty guard Ashley Battle, "and I am very appreciative of it."

Of course African-Americans have made great strides in all areas of our society - music, science, art, and so on. Sports is just one arena of many that African-Americans have excelled in. There have been many famous firsts in black history that have paved the way for the athletes we know and love today. Here are just a few:

  • In 1947, Jackie Robinson became the first African-American to play in Major League Baseball
  • In 1948, UCLA's Don Barksdale was the first African-American to play on the U.S. Olympic Basketball Team
  • In 1950, Chuck Cooper was the first to be drafted to the NBA (Boston); Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton the first to sign a contract (New York); and Earl Lloyd the first to play in a game (Washington)
  • In 1961, Ernie Davis from Syracuse was the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy
  • In 1997, Tiger Woods was the first African-American to win the Masters Tournament

    Third-year Liberty player Shameka Christon recognizes the importance of Black History month. "It means acknowledging and paying tribute to all the heroes that struggled, faced discrimination during their time, and fought for freedom," she said. "If it weren't for these people, I think I would have a different story to tell about my own life. They truly were a blessing."

    Please join the Liberty in honoring Black History Month.