Various organizations in Columbia will be hosting events to celebrate Black History Month, a time of significant historical reflection.
Blind Boone Heritage Foundation spokesman Bill Thompson organized a mobile exhibit for Columbia that will be moving through the town this week. It will stop at local parks and schools to present panels on key figures in black history as well as a PowerPoint presentation about the involvement of black residents in Columbia. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, African Americans make up 11 percent of Columbia's population.
Thompson said there have been many black people who have come out of Missouri who have been influential in various fields.
In 1850, a black man named John Lang owned the first butcher shop in Columbia during a time when people didn't have such conveniences.
Former Kansas City resident Tom Bass invented the Bass bit, which is a piece put in a horse's mouth. He also trained horses for U.S. presidents and eventually moved to Kansas City. He helped organize the first big horse show in Kansas City in 1892, which was the start of The American Royal, one of the top five horse shows in the U.S.
Everything from soled shoes to mailboxes, traffic lights to blood transfusions were invented by African Americans, yet they receive no credit for it, Thompson said.
"People are reaping benefits and we don't know where they come from," Thompson said.
Thompson said Black History Month was important for recognizing the contributions all Americans can provide.
Missouri NAACP President Mary Ratliff said Black History Month is important because black people were left out of the history books.
She said Black History Month deserves more attention so young black children know what they can accomplish.
"They need to know they also had intelligent people who were not able to get proper schooling but excelled in spite of it," Ratliff said.
Community members will be given the chance to comment on the accomplishments of President Barack Obama at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Armory Sports Center.
Columbia community organizer Glenn Cobbins said Black History Month would receive more attention this year because of Obama's election.
"Obama represents all people, not just black people," he said.
Senior Deniece Christian, Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center coordinator, said Black History Month was critical due to the absence of black history in schools.
"It's important to show that black history is just as important and just as big of a part as the things we learned about our white predecessors," she said
In celebration of Black History Month, various activities will be available for people of all races and ages.
Black Studies Professor Wilma King will speak at the Missouri State Archives Feb. 21 in Jefferson City about free black women during the slave era.
Throughout February, the center will feature various types of African-American art.