Date: February 6, 2007
Contact: Lindsay Gladstone
Governors State University
Phone: (708) 534-7090
Fax: (708) 534-8399
For Immediate Release
University Park, Illinois, February 6, 2007 – Dr. June Patton, professor of history and public policy at Governors State University, received an invitation recently that requires her birth date and social security number with her acceptance.
While the RSVP may seem unusual, it is perfectly understandable when the invitation comes from the President of the United States.
Professor Patton of Hyde Park was invited to attend the White House celebration of African American History Month on February 12, representing the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), of which she is a member of the Executive Council. ASALH was the founding organization of Black History Week in 1926, which grew into the current month-long observance in 1976.
“I am excited to visit the White House. It is not necessarily because of who is in it, but because it is the ‘people’s house.’” explained Patton. “The only thing better would have been an invitation to sleep in the Lincoln bedroom or eat dinner at the White House.”
While she is not sure, Patton believes that her invitation will include light refreshments, a few speeches, photo opportunities, and witnessing President George Bush sign the proclamation declaring February African American History Month.
“Carter G Woodson, the founder of ASALH and creator of Negro History Week, selected February because Frederick Douglas was born on February 14 and Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12,” explained Patton.
“Unfortunately, less African American history is taught now than before. It should be taught every day, every year as it is American history, but you take what you can get.”
While Dr. Patton has been a long time professor at Governors State University, she also spent time in Washington D.C. in 1991-93 working with the National Endowment of the Humanities. Her work during that time was reflected in the increased training of archivists and preservationists to maintain and preserve the history and artifacts of minorities in the United States.