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Obama Administration Celebrates Black History Month

Catch up on all the ways President Obama and his Administration joined Americans across the country in celebrating Black History Month and the many contributions and rich culture of African Americans

Throughout the past month the President joined Americans across the country in celebrating Black History Month and the many contributions and rich culture of African Americans. For centuries, African Americans have broken barriers and enriched the story of our nation - from classrooms to boardrooms and from industry to our legendary military. This year’s theme, "Black Women in American Culture and History," invited all to reflect on the role African American women have played in shaping the narrative of our nation’s history.

During Black History Month, visitors who toured the White House were welcomed by volunteers and viewed displays that showcased photos of prominent African American women with Presidents or at the White House. Photographs featured during the tour can be viewed here. The White House also highlighted black women throughout the government and their accomplishments through blog posts on the WhiteHouse.Gov/AfricanAmericans webpage, as well as with a video message from the First Lady.

Featured blog posts:

In addition to honoring African American women –each week during Black History Month, the Obama Administration held events highlighting themes from the President’s Blueprint for an America Built to Last. These themed weeks gave Cabinet Members and Administration officials an opportunity to continue to discuss the President’s plan to build a stronger economy through American Manufacturing, American Energy, Skills for American Workers, and a commitment to a renewal of American Values, as well as how this plan will impact all Americans, including African Americans.

For a recent report on the President’s agenda and the African American Community, please click here. The President’s 2012 proclamation for National African American Heritage Month can also be found here.

Black History Month Activities

Sunday, January 29:

  • The First Family visited the Corcoran Gallery of Art to view the "30 Americans" exhibit, a collection of thirty prominent African American artists of the last three decades.

Wednesday, February 1:

  • Secretary of Education Arne Duncan hosted a conference call with African American Stakeholders to discuss the Administration’s commitment to making college more affordable for all Americans. Secretary Duncan also discussed the President’s Blueprint to provide skills for American workers.

Thursday, February 2:

  • The U.S. Surgeon General delivered remarks to the 25th Annual National Black Nurses Day on the Hill event hosted by theNational Black Nurses Association. At the event, the Surgeon General discussed the major benefits of the America Care Act on African American families, community health centers, and medical professionals.

Friday, February 3:

  • Senior Advisor to the President, Valerie Jarrett, was the keynote speaker of the first in a series of Urban Economic Forumsthat will be held around the country. The forums are coordinated by the White House Business Council, the White House Council on Women and Girls, and the U.S. Small Business Administration. The forum focused on women in business and entrepreneurship in cities throughout America.

Monday, February 6:

  • Delta Theta Sigma Incorporated held their “Delta Days in the Nation’s Capital” at the Gaylord National Resort in Maryland. The 23rd annual event focused on creating ongoing solutions for social issues in the African American community. The President met with 95 year old Frankie Muse Freeman, former National President of the sorority and civil rights attorney.

Tuesday, February 7:

  • In honor of the 12th National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett commemorated the day with a blog postdiscussing the significance of the disease and the impact it has caused and the importance around awareness around this critical issue. President Obama, in 2010, released the Nation’s first comprehensive HIV/AIDS plan to continue combating the virus.

Thursday, February 9:

  • The Veterans Administration hosted, “Celebrating African American Women’s Military Service to the Nation,” an event that highlighted the many contributions and successes of black women in the Armed Services.

Friday, February 10:

  • The White House Office of Public Engagement held its first Community Partnership Summitin Atlanta, Georgia. The Summit was an opportunity for Senior Administration officials to discuss Administration policies with community leaders, small business owners and state and local elected officials across the country over the coming months.

Saturday, February 11:

  • First Lady Michelle Obama celebrated the 2nd Anniversaryof her Let’s Move! Campaign in Florida with events co-hosted by local African American clergy. The First Lady’s initiative to solve the problem of childhood obesity within a generation has made significant progress and she will continue to advocate for this important issue across the nation.

Monday, February 13:

  • The White House, along with the Corporation for National and Community Service, hosted a Drum Majors for Service MLK Service Award event.
  • First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, and other White House officials hosted a second screening of the blockbuster, “Red Tails,”at the White House. Three original Tuskegee Airmen were special guests of the First Lady as they shared the afternoon with National Junior ROTC students, Joining Forces families and other students from the DC Metropolitan area. First Lady Michelle Obama, Dr. Jill Biden and Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett all gave remarks.
  • First Lady Michelle Obama presented Dr. Maya Angelou with a Literary Arts Awardat the 5th annual BET Honors Awards.
  • Attorney General Eric Holder joined Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee in Houston, Texas delivered remarks to students at Wheatley High School as part of an event honoring former Congresswoman Barbara Jordan. 

Thursday, February 16:

  • The White House and Environmental Protection Agency hosted a “Mocha Moms Summit.” Mocha Moms is a non-profit national support group of more than 10,000 mothers who have committed to devoting their time to the community and their families. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis hosted a conference call with African American Stakeholders to discuss the Administration’s commitment to job creation and growing the economy.

Friday, February 17:

  • The United States Agency for International Development and the United States Department of State hosted a forum on “African American Leadership in Foreign Affairs.” Senior Administration leaders and special guest Karyn Parsons discussed the value and role of diversity within the Administration, U.S. priorities in International Affairs, and highlighted African American women in senior leadership throughout the federal agencies.

Week of February 20 - 25

Tuesday, February 21:

  • The White House hosted a celebration of Blues music as part of their “In Performance at the White House” series. The program included performances byTroy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews,Jeff Beck,Gary Clark, Jr.,Shemekia Copeland,Buddy Guy,Warren Haynes,Mick Jagger,B.B. King, Keb Mo,Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks, with Taraji P. Henson as the program host and Booker T. Jones as music director and band leader. Last year the President and First Lady hosted a tribute to Motown music that highlighted its cultural impact and influence.
  • The First Lady welcomed 120 middle and high school students from 24 schools from ten communities around the country to take part in an interactive student workshop event: “At the Crossroads: A History of the Blues in America.” Following, the GRAMMY Museum’s Executive Director Robert Santelli lead the students in an overview of the origins of the Blues, discussing important artists from throughout its history, and covering the genre’s evolution from African American spirituals and work songs to its influence on the chart-topping hits of today.

Wednesday, February 22:

  • The President delivered remarks at the construction site of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. The museum is scheduled to open in 2015 and will be the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, art, history and culture. Watch the President’s remarks HEREor take a look inside the groundbreaking of the museum HERE.
  • The OMB Diversity Council hosted individuals throughout the Executive Office of the President at its “Black Women in American History and Culture” event, which featured EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson as the keynote speaker.
  • Attorney General Eric Holder delivered remarks at the Justice Department’s 2012 African American History Month Commemorative Program in the Great Hall.

Thursday, February 23:

  • The Veterans Administration held a live taping of “Remember When,” an African American History focused talk show.
  • Secretary Hilda Solis held an African American State of the Union Conference Call

Friday, February 24:

  • The White House Office of Public Engagement hosted a policy briefing with 150 African American LGBT emerging leaders from across the country to discuss issues around education, housing and careers in public service

Saturday, February 25:

  • Attorney General Eric Holder spoke at the 100 Black Men of Atlanta Leadership Summit.
  • Michael Strautmanis, Deputy Assistant to the President spoke at the Association for African American Life and History Luncheon with the Washington, DC community.

Sunday February 26th, 2012

  • National Congress of Black Women hosted senior officials from the Administration and the White House Office of Public Engagement for the Advocates in Action, a Community Summit in Los Angeles, California.

Week of February 27 - 29

Monday, February 27:                                      

  • Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden hosted a reception at the US Naval Observatory for African American elected officials. See the blog post HERE

Tuesday, February 28:

  • Gov. Patrick of Massachusetts & 1st grade class students from Orchard Gardens Elementary School in Roxbury, MA visited the White House to recite the “I Have a Dream” speech for President Barack Obama. Read the blog post HERE

Wednesday February 29th, 2012

  • President Obama met with Nichelle Nichols, the actress who played Lt. Uhura on the television show Star Trek, at the White House, after an event held the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Flight Center. 

Kevin Lewis is Director of African-American Media and Heather Foster is Associate Director of the Office of Public Engagement