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Air Force Academy celebrates African-American History Month

Chappie

Then-Col. Daniel "Chappie" James, Jr. stands in front of his McDonnell-Douglas F-4C Phantom in Thailand during the Vietnam War. He's the first African-American in U.S. military history to be promoted to "four-star" general rank. (Courtesy photo)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- February is African-American History Month across the Defense Department, and Total Force Airmen at the Air Force Academy have come together to remember and commemorate the history and sacrifice of African-American Airmen. 


African-American History Month began in 1926, when Dr. Carter G. Woodson created what was then called "Negro History Week." Woodson's goal was to begin an annual commemoration of African-Americans' achievements and help to inspire a new sense of racial equality across the U.S. 

President Gerald Ford urged all Americans to join "in tribute to Black History Month and the message of courage and perseverance it brings to all of us," renaming the observance "African-American History Month" as it is known today.

Here are a few important facts and advances made throughout U.S. history by African-Americans:

Feb. 1, 1926: The celebration of Black History Month, previously as “Negro History Week,” was created by Carter G. Woodson, noted African-American historian, scholar, educator and publisher. 

Feb. 12, 2009: The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People marks its 100th anniversary. February 12 was selected as its the centennial anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln

Feb 25, 1870: The first African-American U.S. senator, Hiram Revels, takes the oath of office.

Feb. 3, 1870: The 15th Amendment is passed, granting black citizens the right to vote.

Feb. 23, 1868: W.E.B. DuBois, important civil rights leader and co-founder of the NAACP, is born.

Feb. 10, 1964: The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is passed making it illegal for state or local gov’t or public facilities to deny access to anyone because of ethnic origin or race. It also made segregation in schools illegal.

Feb. 13, 1923: The first African-American pro-basketball team is organized. It's named "The Renaissance.

Feb. 4, 1913: Rosa Parks, born Rosa Louise McCauley, is born.

Feb. 6, 1867: Robert Tanner Jackson becomes the first African-American in the U.S. to receive a degree in dentistry.  

 

Feb. 7, 1926: Negro History Week is observed for the first time.

Feb. 28, 1932: Richard Spikes invents and patents the automatic gear shift.

Feb. 27, 1988: Figure skater Debbie Thomas become the first African-American to win a medal at the U.S. Winter Olympics.

Feb. 11, 1920: Air Force Gen. Daniel “Chappie” James Jr. is born. The American-fighter pilot is the African-American to be promoted to "four-star" general in the U.S. armed forces.

Other African-American "fun facts"

-- Garrett Augustus Morgan invents a smoke hood in 1916, which is later refined by the Army into the gas mask. He also invents an early version of a traffic signal featuring automated stop-and-go signs.

-- Autherine Lucy becomes the first African-American student at the University of Alabama in February 1956.

-- The oldest African-American sorority is the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. The first Black Greek sisterhood is founded in 1908 at Howard University by Ethel Hedgeman-Lyle.

-- African-American inventor A.W. Martin creates the door lock.

-- Sojourner Truth’s real name is Isabella Baumfree.

-- Barack Obama becomes the first African-American to be elected U.S. president in 2008.