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A Focus on History, Long Before February

We are entering the second week of national Black History Month, a recognition that began in 1976 thanks to then-President Gerald R. Ford who said to his fellow Americans at the time to “honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

His push followed Negro History Week, which began in 1925 thanks to Dr. Carter G. Woodson, a son of two former slaves who would go on to earn a doctorate in history in 1912 from Harvard University. The historian and author chose the second week in February because it was the birthday week of two men whose work Dr. Woodson felt had been crucial to the achievement of his people: Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.

The Man Behind Black History Month.

February is indeed about national black history but, thanks to Debrah S. Hall-McCullon, this month is also about Riviera Beach. That’s because the third edition of her all-things-Riviera Beach book, Riviera Beach Moments, has just published. What began in 2017 as periodic posts on social media has now become a best-selling book series. And underneath it all: her love—and knowledge—of her city. The longtime City employee was born and raised in the coastal community, which is where the knowledge comes from of telling the stories of the city’s people, places and history. The books contain all aspects of the city, including both its east- and west-side communities, but it also highlights those who live primarily on the west: the people of color.

Her city, its story, their book.

The books are being sold on Amazon; click here to check them out. Mrs. McCullon’s work was also highlighted in WPEC Channel 12’s Faces of Black History series—check it out here—and she was the featured guest last week on our 30-minute, every-Wednesday talk show, cocochats, on the young, Caribbean-themed radio station, SupaJamz 103.7 FM. Click here to listen.

“It is important for people to know and preserve history because it gives them a better understanding of the world, and the city, in which they live,” Mrs. McCullon said, “And not just in February.”

To learn more about Black History Month from the government that created it, click here. And, in Palm Beach County (PBC), the PBC Historical Society has a few pages on its website with lots of information about people of color locally. Click here to check it out. Before the end of this month, we’ll have someone on cocochats from the historical society to share.

As for Mrs. McCullon, one big question. Why?

“It was important to me to tell my City’s story,” she said, “and it was fun!”