Black History Month is celebrated in the U.S. throughout the month of February.
American historian Carter G. Woodson established Black History Week to commemorate the contributions that people of African descent have made to our nation.
The first celebration occurred on Feb. 12, 1926. For many years, the second week of February was set aside for the celebration to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and abolitionist and editor Frederick Douglass.
In 1976, as part of the nation’s bicentennial, the week was expanded into Black History Month. Each year, U.S. presidents declare February National African-American History Month.
Perhaps the best place to learn about black history in Cartersville is at the Summer Hill Heritage Museum at the Summer Hill Educational and Recreational Complex near the Aubrey Street gym.
Part of a project to document and interpret the history and culture of Summer Hill, the historically African-American community that formed in the late 1880's near downtown Cartersville, the museum aims to tell the story of Summer Hill, the area and the former Summer Hill High School's rich history, according to the website. Oral histories and a documentary also resulted produced as part of the project.
For Black History Month this year, the museum is hosting speakers who will discuss their livelihoods in an effort to expose children to various career options, The Daily Tribune News reports. Speakers will address students throughout the month on Mondays through Thursdays at 3:30 p.m. at 129 Aubrey St. in Cartersville.
Perhaps one of the most notable graduates of the former Summer Hill High School is Georgia Supreme Court Justice Robert Benham, who earned his diploma in 1963, years before it closed in the early 1970's.
After law school, Benham practiced in various capacities until he was appointed to the Court of Appeals, and five years later, to the Supreme Court of Georgia, by former governor Joe Frank Harris, a fellow Cartersville native.
Benham, the first African-American to be appointed to the state Supreme Court, won statewide elections for subsequent terms following each appointment. Today, he still sits on the bench as a state Supreme Court justice.
Cartersville's Noble Hill-Wheeler Memorial Center is a museum focusing on African-American culture in Bartow County from the late 1800's. It's located in a restored Rosenwald School that was built in 1923 as the first school for black children, and is open Tuesdays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Some famous Black History Month trailblazers, from Biography.com, include:
- Nathaniel Alexander was the first to patent the folding chair. His invention was designed to be used in schools, churches and at large social gatherings.
- Henry Blair, the second African-American to receive a patent, invented a corn seed planter in 1834 and a cotton planter in 1836. Blair could not read or write and signed his patent with an X.
- Joseph Winters invented a fire escape ladder in 1878.
- Sarah E. Goode invented a bed that folded up into a cabinet in 1885. Contrary to popular belief, she was not the first African-American woman to receive a patent, but the second.
- George Carruthers invented the far ultraviolet electrographic camera, used in the 1972 Apollo 16 mission.