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Black history is American history, Urban League leader says

At the 1888 Republican Convention, Frederick Douglass became the first African-American to receive a vote for nomination as president of the United States.
Library of Congress
At the 1888 Republican Convention, Frederick Douglass became the first African American to receive a vote for nomination as president of the United States.

With the turn of the calendar to February, Black History Month is officially underway. It comes this year amid nationwide efforts by the far right to suppress the teaching of Black history in schools.

David Hopkins, president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Hartford, gave an example of why American history without Black history is incomplete.

"Frederick Douglass being the first Black nominee for the seat of presidency of the United States," Hopkins said. "If you don't know that, then you never account for the place that Black people had at the highest level of politics. And then, you replace that with someone else who was white. And then you presume that white people have been at the core and source of legislation."

On Thursday, Feb. 9, from 6 to 8:30 p.m., the Urban League of Greater Hartford will host its free, annual Black History Month Celebration at the Mark Twain House. "It really celebrates African American and Afro Caribbean culture," Hopkins said. "In Greater Hartford there's a strong Afro Caribbean population, so we recognize that and their contributions as well."

The National Urban League has been in existence since 1910 with a self-described mission of advocating on behalf of economic and social justice for African Americans and against racial discrimination in the United States. The Greater Hartford Urban League chapter is approaching its 60th anniversary — it was founded in 1964.

John Henry Smith is Connecticut Public’s host of All Things Considered, its flagship afternoon news program. He's proud to be a part of the team that won a regional Emmy Award for The Vote: A Connecticut Conversation. In his 21st year as a professional broadcaster, he’s covered both news and sports.

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