WHEREAS, in 1976, as Americans celebrated the national bicentennial, President Gerald Ford urged the nation to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history” and, for the first time, Black History Month was celebrated nationwide; and
WHEREAS, President Ford’s words rang true to the nation, and in that spirit, decades later, we stop to recognize and celebrate the incredible roles African Americans have played in Alaska’s history, and their many contributions to the wellbeing of our state; and
WHEREAS, the theme of Black History Month 2020 is “African Americans and the Vote”, and focuses on the “ongoing struggle on the part of both black men and black women for the right to vote”; and
WHEREAS, the strong and positive influence African Americans have had on Alaska started well before statehood as a result of African American men migrating to Alaska to work in whaling, fur trading, and eventually gold mining; and
WHEREAS, we have long benefitted from the contributions of outstanding African American men and women, including Willard Bowman, who moved to Alaska after serving the nation in the U.S. Navy, went on to be appointed the first Director of the Alaska Human Rights Commission in 1963, and later served three terms in the Alaska House of Representatives; and
WHEREAS, this month we honor our African American neighbors, their accomplishments and contributions, and together we celebrate the distinct influence they have on the cultural fabric of our great state.
NOW THEREFORE, I, Mike Dunleavy, GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF ALASKA, do hereby proclaim February 2020 as:
Black History Month
in Alaska, and encourage all Alaskans to recognize the continuing impact African Americans have on our state and the lasting contributions they bring to the success of our communities.