Marissa Briggs – Mustangs Ahead

(LAKEWOOD RANCH, FL) – Black History Month takes place every February. This month is a remembrance of important people and events in the African American community. Americans take the month to recognize achievements made by the African-American community that helped shape our country and culture today.

Among many influential scientists, Percy Julian was additionally a civil rights activist and medical professional. He dedicated his life not only to civil rights issues but discovered the chemical synthesis used in medicine and drugs derived from plants. This includes steroids and birth control. His work was noticed by many, and he was later inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame and the American Chemical Society.

Benjamin Banneker is known for building America’s first clock, among his fight for civil rights. He wrote to Secretary Thomas Jefferson at the time asking for help in improving the lives of African Americans.

“When Benjamin Banneker created the first clock, he not only found an accurate way to keep time, he opened up the field of astronomy. Being able to accurately track time, means you can track moving bodies. Many fields of mathematics and science owe him a big thank you,” said LRHS teacher Meghan Sugalski.

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Former slave Frederick Douglass, once he escaped his position as a slave, went on to become an activist and author. His autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, has become a popular study of literature, as he detailed his life and hardships as a slave.

“There are many great authors and poets from the African American community that don’t get enough recognition that contributed greatly to literature,” said LRHS language arts teacher Michael Wood, “For example the poet Langston Hughes, famous for writing Montage of a Dream Deferred which eventually developed into the famous A Raisin in the Sun.”

The famous Rosa Parks played a big part in the movement for civil rights. When boarding a bus, she refused to give up her seat simply because of her skin color. Her refusal, and eventual arrest, sparked a movement of equality across America.

Black History Month is a time to remember not only the movement for Civil Rights and equality, but the numerous individuals and contributions that have shaped our history, technology, literature, and society today.

“The Civil Rights movement was a psychological as well as historic turning point in American history,” said LRHS social studies  and Advanced Placement (AP) psychology teacher Heather Selens.  “For the first time African American empowerment became part of our accepted national attitude and discourse.”