Fun times in February

Published 7:56 pm Wednesday, February 28, 2007

By By Adrienne McKenzie
Black History Month is almost over but that is no reason to stop celebrating and remembering what African Americans throughout the past have done for this country.
Americans have been remembering black history annually since 1926. In the beginning, the annual commemoration of black history was called "Negro History Week" and later became known as "Black History Month." When the tradition began, black history had barely been studied or documented. It was not until the 20th century that African Americans acquired a respectable existence in history books.
Dr. Carter G. Woodson is the individual responsible for the study of black history and for Black History Month. Woodson was the son of slaves and he spent his childhood working in coalmines in Kentucky. He registered for high school at 20 years old. He graduated two years later and continued his education at Harvard University, receiving his Ph.D.
While Woodson was at Harvard, he noticed that African Americans were hardly represented in history books and when they were in the books, the majority of the information was negative. Woodson chose to take a stand and write black history into the nation's history himself. He founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History in 1915 and a year later he established the "Journal of Negro History."
In 1926 Woodson launched Negro History Week in an effort to bring attention nationally to the contributions of African Americans throughout the history of America. He chose the second week of February because the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas were celebrated during that particular week and Woodson felt that these two men greatly impacted the African American population.
There are inventions created by African Americans that we all enjoy and take for granted.
In 1917 Nathanial Alexander from Virginia patented a folding chair. He intended for these chairs to be used in schools, churches and auditoriums. Because of this creation, we can go to plays or musicals in school auditoriums, the movies and to college basketball games. All of these locations incorporate the original folding chair in some way.
In 1834 Henry Blair received a patent for a seed planter and two years later a patent for a cotton planter. Because of Blair, all of the farmers in the area are able to do what they do best, farm.
In 1899 John Albert Burr patented an improved version of the lawn mower. His lawn mower had traction wheels and a rotary blade that was specifically designed to keep grass from stopping up the mower. This mower also made it easier to mow closer to the edge of buildings and walls.
In 1989 Lonnie G. Johnson created a product that children across the nation relish, the Super Soaker(r). This is a powerful water gun that I personally have seen countless children carrying around during the summer time, trying to squirt their buddies with water on those hot afternoons.
These things are just a few of the creations African Americans have provided our country with during the past. Although these things may seem trivial, they have provided our lives with enjoyment and some have even made our lives a little easier.
Yes, Black History Month ends today but the inventions and history of African Americans will carry on throughout the years.
Adrienne McKenzie is a reporter for the Atmore Advance. She can be reached at 368-2123.

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