Celebrating Diversity: Black History Month at Peace Corps

February 4, 2003

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 4, 2003—Today, Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez announced the agency’s month-long celebration of Black History Month. Throughout February, Peace Corps will honor the role of African Americans in shaping our nation’s history and culture, and focus events around the national theme for Black History month, “The Souls of Black Folk: Centennial Reflections.”

Black History Month was originally founded as Negro History Week in 1924 and expanded to its current form in 1976. The month of February was chosen to honor Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, two Americans who made great contributions to Black history during the 19th century. Black History Month was created as an opportunity for Americans of all races to celebrate the contributions of Black Americans throughout our history.

The Peace Corps’ Black History Month activities include the following: an agency-wide reading campaign of the W.E.B. DuBois’ Souls of Black Folk, a panel discussion on African-Americans in international affairs in the past, present and future, a showing of the film documentary "W.E.B. DuBois: A Biography in Four Voices", an African attire fashion show, and a potluck sampling of foods from the African American culture.

Since 1961, more than 168,000 volunteers have served in the Peace Corps, working in such diverse fields as education, health and HIV/AIDS awareness and education, information technology, business development, the environment, and agriculture. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a two-year commitment.

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