“Black Women in American History and Culture” is the theme for this year’s, Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) Black History Month luncheon.

Now in its 86th year, “the annual luncheon is one of the largest fundraisers that we hold,” said Sylvia Cyrus, executive director of ASALH. “In addition to providing the funds needed to research, publish, promote and preserve Black History, this event serves as a major event to celebrate the contributions of African Americans.”

Founded by Dr. Carter G. Woodson in 1915, the role of African American women throughout history and in the organization has played a pivotal role in developing and raising the community, nation.

“Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune led this organization for 10 years, the longest term of any president,” states Ms. Cyrus. “She inspired Dr. Woodson to publish the Black History Bulletin, a publication for teachers by teachers and we celebrate the 75th anniversary of that publication in 2012. Since 1940, when she became the president, Dr. Bethune led the way for other women to lead this organization as presidents, publication editors and executive directors.”

This year’s guest speaker is Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole, director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art. The esteemed educator was the first African-American woman president of Spellman College and president of Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, N.C.–two world renowned Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) that educate women.

The event will also recognize 17 honorary co-chairpersons who have made significant contributions to the African American history through business, civil rights, religion, education, arts and advocacy.

“We sought to recognize a multi-generational group,” Cyrus said. “Our objective was not only to recognize these women for the work that they have done, but to also hold them up as role models for women everywhere.”

In addition, Cyrus said guests will have an opportunity to engage in dialog with over 25 authors of recently published books on our history. The emcees are honorary chairman Dr. JC Howard and Guy Lambert.

The event will be held Feb. 25, 2012 at The Renaissance Hotel, Washington, D.C. 20001. For ticket information, go to www.asalh.org.

Tia Lewis

Special to the AFRO