Black History Month theme highlights voting rights 

Published 5:16 pm Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Three men accepted a proclamation from the City of Danville that designates the month of February as Black History Month. James Hunn, Charles Gray and Mike Dennis were given a round of applause Monday night at the city commission meeting after Mayor Mike Perros presented it to them. 

The 2020 theme of Black History Month, as set by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), is “African Americans and the Vote.” 

This year marks the centennial of the 19th Amendment and the culmination of the women’s suffrage movement. According to ASALH, it also marks the sesquicentennial of the 15th Amendment (1870) and the right of black men to the ballot after the Civil War. 

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“The theme speaks … to the ongoing struggle on the part of both black men and black women for the right to vote,” according to ASALH. 

Danville’s proclamation speaks to how, even before the Civil War, black men petitioned their legislatures and Congress in order to be recognized. 

It also points to the work of black suffragists, not only within the larger women’s movement, but within the larger black voting rights movement. “Through voting-rights campaigns and legal suits from the turn of the 20th century to the mid-1960s, African Americans made their voices heard as to the importance of the vote,” the proclamation reads. 

The proclamation states that “the theme of the vote should also include the rise of black elected and appointed officials at the local and national levels, campaigns for equal rights legislation, as well as the role of blacks in traditional and alternative political parties.” 

After Perros read the proclamation, he handed the plaque to Hunn, who said, “I’m glad you all got that done before February.” Hunn has been vocal resident in the past about the commission being late to issue proclamations to celebrate Black History Month. 

“We knew you’d want that, sir,” Perros said. 

In other business, the commission unanimously approved: 

  • an ordinance to issue new bonds for upgrades to the sewer plant and upgrading sewer lines in the industrial park for expansion. Borrowing for the new sewer expansion projects and refunding is not to exceed $14 million. Chief Financial Officer Michele Gosser said the move is estimated to save taxpayers $375,000. 
  • a resolution allowing Police Chief Tony Gray to apply for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Office of Highway Safety grant in the amount of $27,000. The grant compensates for overtime costs associated with the enforcement and accomplishment of certain highway safety goals and objectives. 
  • the appointment of Bill Stocker and William Jenkins to the Cemetery Committee; and Donna Fechtor to the Beautification Committee. 
  • the accredited program annual letter of commitment to the Heart of Danville through the Kentucky Main Street Program (KMSP). The letter is a formal and binding statement of the plans, expectations and responsibilities required for future certification by KMSP from the City of Danville and the Heart of Danville. It outlines 12 responsibilities, ranging from maintaining program commitment, to employing a full-time, professional Main Street director, to focusing on downtown revitalization and “working together to establish an adequate budget with funds necessary for operating a Main Street office.”