Center Celebrates African American History

BEACON – During the month of February 2021, the Howland Cultural Center once again joins the National Celebration and Recognition of African American History Month. In Our Lifetime, the art of seventeen African American artists, will be featured in a month long exhibit which opens on Saturday, February 6 and will hang through Sunday, February 28. Gallery viewing hours are every Saturday and Sunday from 1:00 – 5:00 PM. Exhibiting artists are Jean Benoit, Ronald Brown, Rhonda Green-Phillips, Arnold Hayes, Kyra Husbands, Corey Lightfoot, Thelma Lightfoot, Marline A. Martin, Richard Outlaw, Symantha Outlaw, Miles Pinkney, Sandi Pinkney, James Earl Ransome, Lesa Cline-Ransome, Eddison Romeo, Oliver Spearman and Donald Whitely. Artists work to be shown consists of paintings, photography and illustrated children’s books. Josephine Green, a well-known fine arts photographer, is the exhibit curator.

It was in 1976 that the month of February was designated nationally as African American History Month. February was selected for this recognition due to the birthdays of two prominent men of African American history: President Abraham Lincoln, (February 12) and the famous orator and abolitionist, Frederick Douglas, (born and died in February, 1818-1895) . However, celebrating the contributions of black Americans to the development of this nation began much earlier in 1926. At that time, Dr. Carter G. Woodson, a professor at Columbia University, who became known as the “father of African American history”, believed it was long overdue for black Americans to be formally recognized for their significant accomplishments and contributions in every facet of American life: music, science, education, literature, medicine, business, the arts, journalism, sports, theater, politics, religion, law and the judiciary, military, government, inventions….and more.

It took approximately fifty years after Dr. Woodson’s initial campaign for America to finally address the absence of black American history in the education of all Americans and to provide the respect for and recognition of that history….a history which came to include momentous historic events of 2008 and 2012 when the first African American, Barack Obama, was twice elected president of the United States. And in November, 2020, another great milestone took place with the election of the first woman, an African American woman
Kamala Harris, to be vice-president of the United States.

Lonnie G. Bunch, III, founding director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, D.C. which opened in 2016, stated at its opening, “The Museum’s opening was a momentous step forward in America’s understanding of who we are as a nation, and how we can build a better future together. It is a place where all visitors can learn about the entire African American experience which is inextricably woven into the fabric of America’s history….from unimaginable horrors of slavery to the inspiring triumphs like the election of our first black president.”…. And now, eight years later, to the election of not only the first woman, but the first African American woman, to be vice president of the United States.

The Howland Cultural Center is located at 477 Main Street, in Beacon. For questions and/or further information, please call (845) 831-4988.

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