FAYETTE, Iowa (January 30, 2009) - In honor of Black History month and to underscore its long-standing commitment to diversity, Upper Iowa University created a special tribute to its African-American students and alumni on the homepage of its website at www.uiu.edu.
To commemorate and celebrate the contributions to our nation made by people of African descent, American historian Carter G. Woodson established Black History Week. The first celebration occurred on Feb. 12, 1926. For many years, the second week of February was set aside for this celebration to coincide with the birthdays of abolitionist/editor Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. In 1976, as part of the nation's bicentennial, the week was expanded into Black History Month. Each year, U. S. presidents proclaim February as National Black History Month.
One question presented to the students featured was, what personal significance does Black History Month hold for you?
Junior Japatra McGee answered, "The personal significance that I have is knowing that you can make it no matter the color of your skin."
Sophomore Kraig Jackson, UIU-Des Moines, said, "Black History Month is very significant to me. This month allows people to see the hard work, contributions, ingenuity, struggles and accomplishments by both male and female African Americans that are not in your average outdated history books. Black History Month is a source of pride from the past that helps strengthen our future."
According to Kaylan Nwonye-Black, a senior at UIU-Minneapolis, "2009 is a very proud time for African-Americans, with the first Black president in office. Even though Blacks have made major contributions to this nation before Barack Obama was elected, his being elected only assured a race of people that we can do anything."
In addition to current student leaders, a short list of Upper Iowa's notable African-American alumni is also offered, along with a personal reflection on Dr. Martin Luther King written by UIU junior La'Mont Williams. The UIU library provided a list of a few of the many African-American materials available to checkout as well.
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