"It's wonderful to join together today to celebrate this month-long tribute to the history and heritage of African Americans and to recognize the many contributions and achievements they have made," said Mayor Giuliani. "Every February, New York reflects on and celebrates the many contributions that New Yorkers of different ethnic and racial backgrounds have made to our City. New York City is the Capital Of The World because New York is the most diverse City in the world and African American History Month gives us all a chance to learn more about our proud common heritage of diversity.
"In keeping with this year's theme, 'The Legacy Of African American Leadership,' it is also a chance to honor pioneers in our society, those brave individuals who moved our society forward through their example of personal courage and good character," the Mayor continued. "And it is in this spirit that today we honor Major General Rosetta Y. Burke, the first woman Major General in the 221-year history of the Army National Guard."
Dr. Carter G. Woodson founded Negro History Week in 1926 to recognize the legacy of African Americans. It was Dr. Woodson's wish that all Americans would be reminded of their ethnic roots and that people of diverse backgrounds would develop a mutual respect. The month of February was chosen because it was the month in which Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln were born.
In 1976, the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History changed the name to Black History Month and expanded the weeklong celebration to an entire month. Today we celebrate African American History Month.
The Mayor was joined by Deputy Mayor Rudy Washington; Director of Veterans Affairs Michael Handy; the Reverend Ronald Wells, Lieutenant Commander of the United States Navy; and members of the New York City Housing Authority Youth Choir, who performed musical selections during the ceremony.