Tomorrow is Feb. 1, and we are well on our way toward breaking in 2019. There are several observances during the month of February, the first of which is Groundhog Day.
Saturday, Feb. 2, is Groundhog Day. The first official celebration of Groundhog Day in the United States took place Feb. 2, 1887.
Traditionally, the groundhog comes out of his burrow. If he sees his shadow, he’ll return to his burrow and we’ll have six more weeks of winter. If he does not see his shadow, we’ll have an early spring.
Gen. Beauregard Lee resides at the Dauset Trails Nature Center in Jackson. He previously resided at the Yellow River Game Ranch in Lilburn, until it closed in December, 2017. The General received a just-for-fun certificate from the University of Georgia naming him “Doctor of Weather Prognostication.”
Punxsutawney Phil, named after the Pennsylvania city where he lives, is the weather-predicting groundhog the nation looks to for this tradition.
Feb. 14 brings us Valentine’s Day, followed by the Daytona 500 on Feb. 17, and President’s Day on Feb. 18.
February is Black History Month
The man behind Black History Month was Dr. Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950). He dedicated his life to educating African-Americans about the achievements and contributions of their ancestors.
Born in 1875 in Virginia, Dr. Woodson worked as a sharecropper, miner and had an array of other jobs. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Chicago and subsequently entered Harvard. In 1912, he became the second African-American (after W.E.B. Dubois) to earn a doctorate from Harvard.
In 1915, Dr. Woodson, a resident of Washington, D.C., at the time, traveled to Chicago for a national celebration of the 50th anniversary of emancipation. The celebration was attended by thousands of African-Americans at the Coliseum. There were exhibits highlighting the achievements of their people since the abolition of slavery. Dr. Woodson was inspired to do more in the spirit of celebrating black history and heritage. Before he left Chicago, he helped found the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH). A year later, Dr. Woodson single-handedly launched the Journal of Negro History, in which he and other researchers brought attention to the achievements of African-Americans.
In February, 1926, Dr. Woodson sent out a press release announcing the first Negro History Week. He chose February because the month contained the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, two prominent men whose historic achievements African-Americans already celebrated. Lincoln’s birthday was Feb. 12. Douglass, a former slave, hadn’t known his actual birthday, but annually observed the occasion on Feb. 14.
What began as Negro History Week in 1926 officially made the shift to Black History Month in 1976, the 50th anniversary of Negro History Week. That year, Gerald Ford began the tradition of making a proclamation honoring Black History Month. President Ford said the celebration enabled people to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Since then, every president has made a proclamation honoring Black History Month.
In my columns, for the month of February, I anticipate giving special attention to local African-Americans like Bill Collins, Rome’s new mayor; Rome Police Chief Denise Downer-McKinney; Robert Owens and Bishop Wesley Brazil, both of whom are retired from the Rome Fire Department; and several others. Stay tuned and together we’ll learn about some ordinary Romans who achieved the extraordinary.
Native Roman Pam Walker is a paralegal and welcomes your email to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.