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Black History Month Has A New Theme Every Year? The Focus For 2013

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black_history_monthAyvaunn Penn, Naturally Moi

One thing many people do not know about Black History Month is that there is a different theme every year. This year’s theme focuses on two major landmarks not secluded to African-American history and relevant to the molding of our nation as a whole. First is the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. The second is the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington which culminated in Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s renowned “I Have a Dream” speech.

As documented by the National Archives and Records Administration, the Emancipation Proclamation was issued by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863. This particular document declared that “all persons held as slaves” in rebellious states “are, and henceforward shall be free.” Although this mandate set forth by President Lincoln did not free all slaves in the United States at that time, it served as a beacon of hope for those African-Americans still without freedom.

Of course, the day came when all slaves were freed, yet African-Americans still suffered severe social oppression. It was upon these grounds that the Civil Rights Movement was born. Many great leaders arose in the African-American community during this time, but one most remembered by all is Dr. King and his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. On August 28, 1963, Dr. King delivered this message during the March on Washington. His words fell on the ears of approximately 250,000 people who gathered before the Lincoln Memorial. The event was organized by Asa Philip Randolph — president of the Negro American labor council and vice president of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations – with the mission of petitioning the government for civil and economic rights for African Americans.

Our nation has come a long way since the Emancipation Proclamation and the March on Washington. Let us take this time during Black History Month, however, to reflect on how these events made possible the lives we enjoy today.

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The founder of Your Black PoetsAyvaunn Penn is an award-winning writer pursuing her graduate degrees in dramatic writing and acting. Click to follow her on Facebook and Twitter. To have Ayvaunn Penn feature your original poetry on Your Black Poets, click here.