CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee opens its 2006 celebration of Black History Month on Feb. 15, at 10 a.m., with the unveiling of its Miller Building window display. This year’s theme, “African-Americans: Committed to Education,” is designed to promote the importance of education while celebrating diversity.

During the window dedication, John P. Franklin, first African-American commissioner of Education and Health for the city of Chattanooga as well as a former chairman of the city’s board of education, will be honored for his service.

Also at the unveiling, Dr. Joe Cornelius will perform "Hats," a one-man portrayal of the history of African-Americans. Using drama, music, humor, insight, and more than a dozen hats, the author and playwright tracks the past, present and future of African-Americans. Dr. Cornelius, B.S., M.S., Ed.D., is an educator in Maury County, Tenn., and is the author of The History of African-American Education in Maury County, Tennessee, from Slavery to 1998. He is currently the principal at Joseph Brown Elementary School.

After the window ceremonies, the celebration moves to BlueCross’ Adopt-A-School, Chattanooga Middle, where Dr. Cornelius will perform at 1:30 p.m. In addition to the performance, BlueCross will donate a set of 30 books, titled Come Look With Me: Discovering African-American Art for Children, to the school.

According to Vicky Gregg, president and CEO of BlueCross, everyone should spend time learning about the inspiring accounts of African-American educational values and achievements.

“To assure a solid future for our children, it is imperative that we – as parents, employers and members of our respective communities – stress the importance of education. By doing so, we prepare our children to be successful and competitive in a growing international marketplace. This year’s Black History Month observance not only celebrates diversity and education, but also recognizes individuals who have been pioneers within their industries, driven by a sense of purpose and commitment to improve the community around them,” Gregg said.

The Black History Month windows will be on display for public viewing until March 4. The windows are located in the Miller Building at the corners of 7th and Market Streets in downtown Chattanooga.

About BlueCross

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee's mission is to provide its customers and communities with peace of mind through affordable solutions for health and healing, life and living. Founded in 1945, the Chattanooga-based company is focused on reinventing the health plan for its 3 million members in Tennessee and across the country. Through its integrated health management approach, BlueCross provides patient-centric products and services that drive health improvement and positively impact health care quality and value. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Inc. is an independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association. For more information, visit the company's website at www.bcbst.com.