Community & Events

City Council Recognizes Irene West & Proclaims February As Black History Month In Elk Grove

Irene West with City Council Members – Photo Credit: City of Elk Grove

City Council Recognizes Irene West

During the meeting on February 13, the Elk Grove City Council honored Ms. Irene B. West for her decades of community service and achievements.  Ms. West paved the way as the first African-American teacher in Elk Grove. Furthermore, the City Council proclaimed February is Black History Month in the City of Elk Grove.

In 1962, Irene West began teaching first grade at James Mckee Elementary and Prairie Elementary.  Predictably, her first students were all white.  Later, she became the principal at Franklin Elementary and Cosumnes River Elementary.

At her acceptance speech, she acknowledged three former first grade students as well as fellow teachers and principals. She taught first grade for sixteen years and second and third grades for one year. Afterward, she went into administration serving a total of twenty seven years in the Elk Grove Unified School District.

She proudly calls herself a Christian and is beloved by students, teachers, and peers.  Irene B. West Elementary School in Elk Grove was named in her honor. Her son is Cornel West, the famous Princeton professor, and philosopher.

Ms. West is a true American hero and pioneer who brought forth change, unity, and diversity in the Elk Grove school system.

City Council Proclaims February
As Black History Month

During their last meeting, the City Council proclaimed February as Black History Month. Betty Williams, the president of the Greater Sacramento NAACP chapter, and Aliane Murphy Hasan were on hand to accept this proclamation from the City of Elk Grove.

Betty Williams President of NAACP and Aliane Murphy Hasan with City Council Members – Photo Credit: City of Elk Grove

Betty Williams also holds the title of Chairwoman and Executive Director of the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.  She’s the first African-American to be elected in those positions in that organization.

Document Credit: City of Elk Grove
Document Credit: City of Elk Grove

Black History Month

In 1926,  historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History announced the second week of February to be “Negro History Week”. This particular week was chosen because it coincided with the birthday of Abraham Lincoln on February 12 and of Frederick Douglass on February 14. African American communities had celebrated together since the late 19th century.

At Kent State University, the staff and the Black United Students first proposed Black History Month in Feburary 1969.  Black History Month was then celebrated one year later, from January 2, 1970 to February 28, 1970.

Six years later, Black History Month was celebrated all across the country in educational institutions, centers of Black culture and community centers.  Important to note, President Gerald Ford recognized Black History Month, during the celebration of the United States Bicentennial in 1976. He urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history”

Today Black History Month honors the Historic Leaders of the African American Community and raises awareness to all people. Additionally, it provides a platform to highlight history and culture. Also, this month is a reminder to us that Black History is a large part of American history.






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