Black History Month is celebrated in the U.S. throughout the month of February.
American historian Carter G. Woodson established Black History Week to commemorate the contributions that people of African descent have made to our nation.
The first celebration occurred on Feb. 12, 1926. For many years, the second week of February was set aside for the celebration to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and abolitionist and editor Frederick Douglass.
In 1976, as part of the nation’s bicentennial, the week was expanded into Black History Month. Each year, U.S. presidents declare February National African-American History Month.
Here in Joliet, we will speak to a leader in the African American Community every week in the month of February. Our stories will run on Thursdays.
What is your name?
John and Raychel Wesley
What is your profession?
John and Raychel Wesley own The Red Goose in downtown Joliet
Why is this month important to so many Americans?
John: "I think black history should be taught twelve months, not just one month," he said. "I don’t look at this month as being that great, I don’t, I don’t see it like that, it should be done every month."
Ray: "That’s kind of a loaded questions, because there really should not be a need for black history," she said. "We were excluded from history so you have to backtrack to fill in the gaps."
Ray, con't: "Because we were excluded, you have to take a minute to say look at this and look at that. Hopefully as we move forward the contributions that black americans make will just be a part of American history."
Who are your role models?
Ray: "I would have to say my mom," she said. "She’s strong and she always made us believe that we could achieve.
"We all had the opportunity to excel even though there were 9 of us. We were never taught that we were inferior."
John: "Church. I would say like my pastor and assistant pastor," he said. "My pastor is, to many people, a wise man and I respect him for his wisdom."
John attends Christ Temple on Richards Street in Joliet.
We’ve come so far in our country’s history, but what more would you like to see happen?
John: "I would like to see more equality and I would like to see young people with a vision," he said. "It seems as though they don’t have a vision."
Ray: "It’s like we've come so far, but we have so far to go," she said. "I am tired of seeing all these kids walking around here with their butts hanging out.
Ray con't: "I want to see our kids realize that choices have long-range consequences and make better choices, more responsible choices, value opportunity, don’t let it just go by." "AKA, stop acting stupid.
Ray added that there is so much talent and value.