Santa Barbara County First District Supervisor Salud Carbajal presented a resolution Tuesday proclaiming February 2013 as Black History Month in Santa Barbara County during a presentation held as part of a regular meeting of the Board of Supervisors.
Carbajal presented the resolution in recognition of Black History Month in Santa Barbara County, praising the African-American community for their achievements and past contributions and proclaiming that blacks have been a central force in the community and the development of our national identity for more than 150 years.
“Our board, and I in particular, have been putting forth resolutions honoring the various groups of people that our nation is comprised of,” Carbajal said. “February is Black History Month, and we recognized the contributions and celebrate the achievements of the African-American community in the United States in our communities and various states throughout our country.
“For me, it’s always a great joy to do so because it’s our people and our country and our communities that makes us the great nation that we are. We should be celebrating our differences and our similarities everyday.”
Lawanda Lyons-Pruitt, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People-Santa Maria Chapter with Myrtle Harris of Visions of Hope and Aaron E. De Santiago-Jones, Associated Director of Community Affairs for the UCSB Center for Black Studies Research, accepted the resolution on behalf of the black community in Santa Barbara.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to be recognized on this month of February. It’s not just black history, but it’s American history,” said Pruitt, who addressed the board, including Supervisors Janet Wolf, Doreen Farr, Peter Adams and Steve Lavagnino, as well as a room full of citizens and local government officials. “The NAACP was founded in New York in 1909 by 53 concerned Caucasians and seven African-Americans, and is the oldest civil rights organization in the nation. We are celebrating 104 years of providing social, political, educational and economic equality of rights for all citizens.”
Pruitt explained that the NAACP-Santa Maria Charter has served the Santa Maria and Lompoc communities since 1963, and the organization continues to advocate for advancement of minority groups by bridging the gaps in seven advocacy areas — education, health care, criminal justice, economic empowerment, international affairs, poverty issues and civic engagement.
“We are busy in the community,” Pruitt said. “This month we will be having town hall meetings on the Affordable Care Act, and our first meeting is on Feb. 16 at the Shepard Hall Public Library in Santa Maria. We will also be conducting a series of town hall meetings on diversity around Santa Barbara County. All of this was made possible with a grant from The Fund for Santa Barbara.”
February is recognized as Black History Month throughout the United States, and this year’s national theme is, “At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality.”
The resolution presented in Santa Barbara acknowledged two significant anniversaries: the Jan. 1, 1863, Emancipation Proclamation decreed by President Abraham Lincoln that ended slavery, and the 1963 Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C., in which thousands of Americans from all races and cultures marched from the Washington Monument to the Abraham Lincoln Memorial and concluded with civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.‘s historic speech, “I Have a Dream.”
“The Center for Black Studies Research strives to not only strengthen the ties with the community and works in collaboration with the community to build a better future for all our children and all the members of the community,” Jones said.
Jones elaborated that collaboration can take many forms, including enhancing communication between the university and the community on issues of mutual concerns, facilitating access for the community to university resources, participating in the development and implementation of community-based educational and social initiatives, and providing co-sponsorship for cultural activities on campus and in the community.
The resolution also recognized leaders whose courage and fortitude helped pave the way for all cultures to work toward creating a common good for all citizens.
The universal message of brotherhood was reinstated when Harris shared a handwritten note by her son, Phillip Pipersburg, who founded Visions of Hope, that summed up the message of the resolution and the day: “In celebrating Black History Month, it is not just for people in the black community, but for everyone because we are a unity, and in unity we find strength.”