MC Professor James Fuller recently sat down with El Paisano and talked black history. Walking in to Fuller’s office, it’s hard not to notice that his walls are covered in pictures of what he called “some of his favorite African American advocates.”
Fuller is a strong advocate for justice. This is why his inspiration in the black community is Congressman John Lewis.
“I have so many inspirations, but the one that inspires me the most is Congressman John Lewis,” Fuller said. “He is my inspiration because he is still alive and advocating for justice.”
One of the photos in his office features a meeting with Lewis in Austin on March 23, 2003. “I fought too long and too hard to end discrimination based on race and color, to not stand up against discrimination against our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters,” Lewis said from a previous interview.
When asked about what black history month meant to him, Fuller said, “I knew you were going to ask this question; this question always comes up. Black history to me is an affirmation of what American history is, 365 days of the year.”
For Fuller, black history month is not just celebrated one month out of the year, it is celebrated year round.
The month of February is a month where all of the United States commemorate and celebrate the many contributions made by the people of African descent. He said this month celebrates African Americans who have fought for rights for their generation.
These many generations of African Americans have served in the military, have educated themselves to the highest standards, and have overcome poverty, the professor said.
The origin of black history month dates back to the early 1900s, starting with Dr. Carter G. Woodson. He traveled to the state of Illinois to participate in the celebration of the 50th anniversary of emancipation.
The celebration lasted three weeks, and within that time, Woodson gathered other men to participate in the cause. They created a society that would teach what is known about African American history today. A society was created on Sept. 9, 1912 and called the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH).
“Black History means to me what it probably means to a lot of African Americans out there who care about what our history means to them. It means that we can always look back to where we came from and feel proud at where we are now,” said Jason McGhee, an African American advocate in the military.
“Black History Month is full of the struggles of the African Americans who did fight for their freedom for many years. Black history month is a celebration that we won those battles.”