Friday, February 12th. One of the nation’s major civil rights organizations is 107 years old today — the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Founded to combat lynching and segregation, the NAACP continues to work toward greater opportunities for minorities. One of its most telling moments came with the 1954 Supreme Court ruling in Brown vs. Board of Education, which desegregated the nation’s schools. The lawyer who argued that case, Thurgood Marshall, became the first African-American Supreme Court justice. When the NAACP was founded, there were 9.8 million African-Americans in the U.S. Today that number, including mixed-race blacks, is over 44 million. You can find more facts about America’s people, places and economy, from the American Community Survey, at <www.census.gov>.
Saturday, February 13th. This date marks the anniversary in 1635 of the idea of America’s first public school — the Boston Latin School — long before there was a United States. Established in April that year, among its later students were Benjamin Franklin and Samuel Adams. And this month in 1897, Phoebe Hearst and Alice Birney founded what is today known as the Parent Teacher Association, or PTA. Originally called the National Congress of Mothers, the organization now encourages both mothers and fathers to take part in school activities to improve the quality of their children’s education. Today, there are over 49 million youngsters enrolled in elementary through high school, with an additional 8.7 million attending nursery school or kindergarten. You can find more facts about America’s people, places and economy, from the American Community Survey, at <www.census.gov>.
Sunday, February 14th. While today may not be an official holiday, Valentine’s Day is one of the most popular in the year’s calendar. Its origins are a mix of legends involving two Christian martyrs, a Roman fertility rite, and the old notion that this is the time of year when the birds choose their mates. What is sure is that Esther Howland of Massachusetts began selling the first mass-produced valentines in the 1840s. The observance also falls in the middle of National Weddings Month. There are about 2.14 million weddings annually in the U.S. — that’s over 5,800 per day. More than 60 percent of the population over age 15 is currently married. Some 19 men out of 1,000 get married each year; for women, the rate is over 17½ per thousand. You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau online at <www.census.gov>.