February is Black History Month, and in 2023, Lewiston's focus is civic engagement in African American history, specifically in Lewiston, Maine. Names familiar to Lewiston are Benjamin Elijah Mays and John Jenkins. Leadership, advocacy, and education contributed to an inclusive and integrated community.
In 1925, Harvard-trained historian Carter G. Woodson, known as the "Father of Black History," had a bold idea. That year, he announced "Negro History Week" -- a celebration of a people that many in this country at the time believed had no place in history. The response to the event, first celebrated in February 1926, a month that included the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, was overwhelming -- as educators, scholars and philanthropists stepped forward to endorse the effort.
"When 'Negro History Week' was founded, black history was not being talked about or written about and people were saying African Americans had no presence in history," "Woodson was dedicated to making African American history accessible to the everyday person. He wanted African Americans, and all Americans, really, to know the African American story and to see themselves in it because representation is power," – Karma Allen (ABC News)
In 2023, the same idea is still continued; however, recognizing that almost 100 years has passed, the need to continue to build inclusivity in all of history still remains.