By TYLER MASK
Former Mineral Wells mayor and educator Clarence Holliman uses Black History Month to share his family history.
“God worked in my family,” Holliman said. “The Hollimans were enslaved in Granville, Tennessee. I have visited there and bonded with the granddaughter of Henry Holliman, who was a friend of my grandfather, father Jim Holliman.
“I have a copy of a handwritten letter written to Henry Holliman (white) from Jim Holliman (black) from Henderson, Texas, to Granville, Tennessee, dated 1929. During the month of February, I share or have shared my heritage to whomever and wherever I am invited to do so.”
Black History Month is an annual celebration to remember the achievements of African Americans and recognize their role in U.S. History. According to History, better known as the History Channel, the month of celebration was born out of “Negro History Week,” which was the brainchild of historian Carter G. Woodson and other African Americans.
Although NHW traces its roots back to 1915, by the late 1960s it evolved into BHM on certain college campuses. It wasn’t until 1976, however, that President Gerald R. Ford officially recognized BHM.
To date, every U.S. President has set the month of February aside for the remembrance of all the African American people have fought for.
“[Black History Month is] a time to honor men like Dr. Martin Luther King and others who have done so much for the black community [and] a time of reflection to see how far we have come as a people,” Palo Pinto County write-in candidate for Democratic Chair Ida Nickerson said. “[Its purpose is to] educate, educate, educate. We should never forget the sacrifices made – from people of all colors – on behalf of our freedom.”
“It gives me a special time to reflect upon how far God has brought America from slavery to now,” Holliman said. “It gives me a special opportunity to reflect on God’s goodness to me and my family’s heritage.”
Although slavery and racial discrimination existed long before the U.S.’s conception, the events on American soil leading up to a national month of reverence for African American history are extensive.
The following timeline highlights a few of these major events.
• 1619: The first African slaves are introduced in America.
• 1808: U.S. bans slave imports.
• 1846: Frederick Douglass creates The North Star, an abolitionist newspaper.
• 1849: Harriet Tubman escapes slavery.
• 1850: The Underground Railroad begins.
• 1857: Dred Scott Decision.
• 1863: Emancipation Proclamation.
• 1866: Civil Rights Act.
• 1868: 14th Amendment. (Gave Blacks right of citizenship.)
• 1870: 15th Amendment. (Gave Blacks right to vote.)
• 1896: Segregation legalized.
• 1909: NAACP founded.
• 1947: Jackie Robinson breaks color barrier in Major League Baseball.
• 1954: Brown vs. Board of Education.
• 1955: Rosa Parks arrested.
• 1963: March on Washington.
• 1967: Thurgood Marshall appointed to Supreme Court.
• 1968: Martin Luther King Jr. assassinated.
“It is extremely important to know where you come from before you can know where you are going,” Nickerson said.
To learn more about BHM, visit www.history.com.