Albany County is once again celebrating Black History Month.
The annual celebration began Thursday with a kickoff event at the county office building in downtown Albany. This year’s theme is “The Crisis in Black Education.”
City School District of Albany Interim Superintendent Kimberly Young Wilkins: "That's actually the national theme for Black History Month that's actually coming from the Association for the Study of African American Life in History."
Albany County Executive Dan McCoy says it's important to remember our history: "...because we don't wanna repeat our history. And after having President Obama for the last eight years and making so much strive going forward, we have to stay vigil and we have to make sure that we stay together as a community to enhance opportunities for all children, but not forget the strives that we had to make in the African American community that continues to help educate our kids in the urban schools."
Wilkins says African Americans have faced struggles in gaining access to public education for decades. "The gap for achievement for African Americans still exists. The Coleman report was out in 1966 and had looked at it with a pinpoint view of — there's a real gap between African Americans and whites when it comes to achievement, but as you push that forward to 2017, the gap has closed a little bit, but not significantly to stop talking about the gap. So that kind of brings the whole historical prevalence of African Americans history in education full-front as in 2017 and we still have a crisis in education."
Various events and presentations emphasizing the importance of the nation’s African American history will be held throughout February. "February 15th our county clerk, Bruce Hidley is gonna be displaying a bunch of history from young city kids back in the 19th century that went through the school system and some of the different struggles they had back then. It's gonna be interesting for people to come out to the Cahill Room at 112 State Street, the Harold Joyce Building, this is our county office building here, and really see that display, and really reflect, not on people like just Dr. Martin Luther King, but all the history that African Americans have put in our history books."