Consulate General Events 2013
U.S. Consulate General Dubai Presentation on U.S. Black History Month
January 18, Dubai – The United States Consulate General’s Public Affairs Office in Dubai presented a slide show and historical narrative on U.S. Black History Month to students and faculty at the American University of Sharjah. Public Affairs Officer Daniel Aragon delivered a talk on the origins of Black History Month and its importance to the fabric of the Unites States’ history and identity.
Every year since 1976 when the U.S. Government recognized Black History Month, Americans across the United States have participated in parades, literary clubs, dance halls, schools, town halls, theaters, and Congress to honor and commemorate the accomplishments African Americans have made to our nation’s economic, labor, intellectual, cultural, artistic, scientific, musical, literary, judicial, social, entrepreneurship, and political evolution.
Black history Month did not actually begin in 1976, but has its origins dating to the 16th Century. Its political consciousness, however, was coined in 1926. February was selected in honor of President Abraham Lincoln and the 19th Century Abolitionist Frederick Douglass, both of whom shared birthdays in that month.
The Public Affairs Officer spoke briefly not only about prominent African Americans in U.S. history such as President Barack Obama, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., U.S. Justice Thurgood Marshall, and Oprah Winfrey, but focused primarily on the role of African Americans in sports, namely the Olympian Jesse Owens (1913-1980).
The U.S. Consulate General chose Jesse Owens because of his legacy in track and field, courage in the face of adversity, commitment to excellence, and for his service as President Dwight Eisenhower’s Good Will Ambassador in sports. Jesse Owens dedicated his life to helping underprivileged youths in sports.
In 1976 President Gerald Ford awarded Jesse Owens the highest civilian honor in the U.S., the Medal of Freedom. Three years later, President Jimmy Carter presented him with the Living Legend Award. At that time, President Carter said, “His personal triumphs as a world-class athlete and record holder were the preludes to a career devoted to helping others. His work with young athletes and spokesperson for freedom are a rich legacy to his fellow Americans”.