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By Robert G. Stanton, Expert Member, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and former National Park Service Director February is African American History Month, an opportunity to pause in our busy schedules to show gratitude for the contributions our ancestors made, through their courage, sacrifice, leadership, and hard work, that advanced the liberties and freedoms we enjoy today. Over the course of this month, we can educate a wider audience about those contributions. African American History Month not only helps African Americans understand their own heritage but gives all Americans a better understanding of the role of African Americans in our nation’s rich and diverse history.
In 1871, Congress designated August 26 as Women’s Equality Day, commemorating the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, granting women the right to vote. There are several significant historic sites throughout the U.S. linked to the women’s suffrage movement. Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls, NY, encompasses several historic buildings associated with the first Women’s Rights Convention, July 19 and 20, 1848.
The National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), which established the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation in 1966, requires federal agencies to act as responsible stewards of our nation’s resources when their actions affect historic properties. Section 106 of the NHPA sets forth a process for federal agencies to identify and assess the effects of their actions on historic resources. The responsible agency must consult with appropriate state and local officials, applicants for federal assistance, members of the public, and Indian tribes and consider their views and concerns about historic preservation issues when making final project decisions.
A little one-room country schoolhouse in Waubeka, Wisconsin is on the National Register of Historic Places for its connection to the origins of Flag Day. It was there that a 19-year-old teacher and his students held the first known observance of Flag Birth Day on June 14, 1885, using a 10-inch 38-star flag propped up in a glass bottle. Teacher Bernard Cigrand had his students, mostly descendants of Luxembourger immigrants, honor Old Glory by “reading essays they had written and discussing the flag’s history and meaning,” according to the Wisconsin Historical Society.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month is celebrated each June to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan, a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. However, a full three years prior to Stonewall, a “sip-in” was staged at another New York City establishment, Julius’ Bar. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2016, Julius’ Bar, located at the corner of West 10th Street and Waverly Place in Greenwich Village, was built in 1826. After serving as a grocery store, the structure has been a bar since 1864.