Charles Everett, Lehigh Valley International Airport, African American Business Leaders Council Chair
National African American History Month began in February 1926 as Negro History Week by Carter G. Woodson. The purpose of Negro History Week was for Americans to study and celebrate the heritage and contributions made by people of African descent to the nation. February was chosen because of the birthdays of two famous Americans who played a significant role in African American history, Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. In 1976, as part of the nation’s bicentennial and a desire to increase awareness, the week was expanded into Black History Month. President Gerald R. Ford urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
Today, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History continues to promote African American history and sets the annual theme. The theme for 2017 focuses on the crucial role of education in the history of African Americans. Much still needs to be done to support equality in education through the allocation of resources and the delivery of opportunities. One of the program areas for the African American Business Leaders Council is education, including workforce training and professional development. The Council encourages all business and government leaders to explore what can be done specifically to support African American entrepreneurs and businesses and to help individuals and firms who may be interested in starting or expanding a business.