Tag Archives: Black History Month

February: Heritage Month


thefaces

February is African American History Month

The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American society.

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Carter Woodson ~ American historian


Carter G. Woodson

To commemorate and celebrate the contributions to our nation made by people of African descent, American historian Carter G. Woodson established Black History Week. The first celebration occurred on Feb. 12, 1926. For many years, the second week of February was set aside for this celebration to coincide with the birthdays of abolitionist/editor Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. In 1976, as part of the nation’s bicentennial, the week was expanded to a month. Since then, U.S. presidents have proclaimed February as National African-American History Month.

 

In the fall of 1870, a handful of students made their way through the northwest quadrant of the nation’s capital, and through the doors of D.C.’s “Preparatory High School for Colored Youth,” the country’s first public high school for African American children. The students and teachers who graced its hallways would be heard through the years in the halls of Congress, in the highest ranks of the United States military, at the heart of our civil rights movement, and in the upper echelons of medical and scientific study.

One such voice was that of Carter G. Woodson; a journalist, author, historian, and co-founder of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH). It was through his work with the ASNLH that Woodson spearheaded the celebration of “Negro History Week” in America, which served as the precursor to Black History Month, which was officially recognized by President Gerald Ford in 1976. Woodson taught us that, “those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.”

Find out more about Carter G. Woodson.

 

 

 

Black History Month: The Need Remains … a repost


Lonnie Bunch, museum director, historian, lecturer, and author, is proud to present A Page from Our American Story, a regular on-line series for Museum supporters. It will showcase individuals and events in the African American experience, placing these stories in the context of a larger story — our American story.A Page From Our American StoryEditor’s Note: This edition of A Page from Our American Story was originally a speech made by Lonnie Bunch. It is reprinted here in its entirety.Knowing the Past Opens the Door to the Future
The Continuing Importance of Black History Month

Carter Woodson,
father of Black
History Month,
was commemorated
by the United States
Postal Service with
a stamp in his
image on
February 1, 1984.

No one has played a greater role in helping all Americans know the black past than Carter G. Woodson, the individual who created Negro History Week in Washington, D.C., in February 1926.

Woodson was the second black American to receive a PhD in history from Harvard — following W.E.B. DuBois by a few years. To Woodson, the black experience was too important simply to be left to a small group of academics. Woodson believed that his role was to use black history and culture as a weapon in the struggle for racial uplift. By 1916, Woodson had moved to DC and established the “Association for the Study of Negro Life and Culture,” an organization whose goal was to make black history accessible to a wider audience. Woodson was a strange and driven man whose only passion was history, and he expected everyone to share his passion.

This impatience led Woodson to create Negro History Week in 1926, to ensure that school children be exposed to black history. Woodson chose the second week of February in order to celebrate the birthday of Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. It is important to realize that Negro History Week was not born in a vacuum. The 1920s saw the rise in interest in African American culture that was represented by the Harlem Renaissance where writers like Langston Hughes, Georgia Douglass Johnson, Claude McKay — wrote about the joys and sorrows of blackness, and musicians like Louie Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Jimmy Lunceford captured the new rhythms of the cities created in part by the thousands of southern blacks who migrated to urban centers like Chicago. And artists like Aaron Douglass, Richard Barthe, and Lois Jones created images that celebrated blackness and provided more positive images of the African American experience.

Woodson hoped to build upon this creativity and further stimulate interest through Negro History Week. Woodson had two goals. One was to use history to prove to white America that blacks had played important roles in the creation of America and thereby deserve to be treated equally as citizens. In essence, Woodson — by celebrating heroic black figures — be they inventors, entertainers, or soldiers — hoped to prove our worth, and by proving our worth — he believed that equality would soon follow. His other goal was to increase the visibility of black life and history, at a time when few newspapers, books, and universities took notice of the black community, except to dwell upon the negative. Ultimately Woodson believed Negro History Week — which became Black History Month in 1976 — would be a vehicle for racial transformation forever.  Read the full speech now…

All the best,
Lonnie Bunch
Director

 

I Have Decided To Stick With Love … MLK jr. “Where Do We Go From Here”


“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”   Thus spake Martin Luther King. Sort of.

MLK jr.

Excerpt from his August 16, 1967 “Where Do We Go From Here” speech.

He actually said this:

I have also decided to stick with love, for I know that love is ultimately the only answer  to mankind’s problems. And  I’m going  to  talk about it everywhere  I go. I know it isn’t popular to talk about it in some circles today. And I’m not talking about emotional bosh when  I talk about love; I’m talking about a strong, demanding  love.  For  I have seen  too much hate. I’ve seen too much hate on the faces of sheriffs in the South. I’ve seen hate on  the  faces of too many Klansmen and  too many White Citizens Councilors in  the South to want to hate, myself, because every time I see it, I know that it does something to their faces and their personalities, and I say to myself that hate is too great a burden to bear.  I have decided to love.

 

below is a commentary by: Her Bad Mother

If you are seeking the highest good, I think you can find it through love.

He’s right, of course. And he’s still right that talking about love isn’t popular in some circles, that for some, talk of love is just so much bosh and crap and none of us really believes that stuff, do we? Because talking about love is too easy, and real problems require real solutions, not sentimentalism, and isn’t everyone who prattles on about love at best a misguided optimist, of the cock-eyed variety, at worst an insincere manipulator, and shouldn’t we all just be getting angry?

No. No. Because nothing good was ever achieved through anger and hate. Because moving through the world wearing shit-colored glasses blinds us to the world-changing possibilities of hope and friendship and community and, yes, love. Because whether we’re talking about the assholes that wander the Internet looking for opportunities to spread ugliness and hostility or the pundits and politicos who put their enemies in crosshairs or the poor, miserable souls who think – or claim to think – that God tells them to hate – we’re talking about the same thing. We’re talking about the burden of hate. It drags us down. Whether it comes in small parcels or large, it weighs us down. It breaks our backs and it binds our arms and it (alongside, I would argue, apathy, which is just hate leached of its color and energy) is the thing that prevents us from seeing good and feeling good and realizing real change. It blinds us. It makes us ugly, and it makes it so that we can’t see how ugly we’ve become.

But. We can refuse it. We can decide to refuse the burden of hate; we can opt to not let it touch our shoulders. We can choose to stick with love, whatever that looks like. We can choose to stick with love. It’s not always easy – I get angry; I get lots angry and I get bitchy and I sometimes really struggle with the whole love thy neighbor thing because, seriously, the global neighborhood includes people like the Westboro Baptists – but still. We can choose to stick with love.

Let’s.

Please …

Love trumps hate