ACR 9 (Mitchell) – Black History Month

For the 14th consecutive year, the resolution proclaiming Black History Month contains a misspelling.

Matthew Henson

ACR 9 (by Holly Mitchell), which recognizes the contributions of Booker T. Washington, George Washington Carver, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. includes a name that it shouldn’t; Matthew Hansen.

According to Wikipedia, Matthew Henson was an African American explorer who made a number of expeditions including one (in 1909) “during which he may have been the first person to reach the Geographic North Pole.” As a notable individual, Henson would be an obvious choice for inclusion in the resolution.

Matthew Hansen

But the name found in the resolution is that of Matthew Hansen, a Canadian artist and blogger who published graphic novels. Although there is a small possibility that the author of the resolution intended to honor Hansen for his contributions to society, that’s unlikely.

It appears that the misspelling started in 1995, when Assemblyman Willard Murray introduced ACR 38 (relating to Juneteenth Day) which mentioned Matthew Hansen in a list of “gallant and accomplished African Americans who have played a major role in American history.” In 1999, Hansen made it into his first Black History Month resolution. He has remained there for the past decade.

Two years ago, I contacted the author’s office and suggested amending the bill to correct the name of the famed explorer. Unfortunately, a floor ceremony had already been scheduled and the amendment would have required postponing the event. Hansen gained another year.

Now, 18 years after the first inclusion, Matthew Hansen appears solidly entrenched as a part of Black History Month in California.

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