Black History has always been American History, and now more than ever, its value and critical importance are on full display throughout the nation. The genius of Dr. Carter G. Woodson, who founded Black History month nearly 100 years ago, has caused generations of advocates to pay homage throughout the month of February to historical and current black men and women for their trailblazing sacrifices throughout the ages.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH AROUND THE WORLD
Each year Black History Month is also celebrated in England during the month of October, a tradition that started in 1987. Canada started celebrating Black History Month each February in 1995. Historical abolitionist activities in the Republic of Ireland contributed to Black History Month becoming official in October 2014. And the Netherlands acknowledged Black Achievement Month starting in October 2016.
All thanks to ONE man's dream of giving dignity and honor to a race of people whose bloodlines spanned two continents.
BRAVERY THROUGH THE AGES: REV WILLIAM GAINES
I draw strength when I reflect on the stories and countless acts of bravery and courage from African Americans of the past. Some of them are my ancestors, like Rev. William Gaines, who in Savannah, Georgia in January 1865 sat with other black leaders in conversation with General William Tecumseh Sherman to figure out what to do with so many newly freed slaves. My relative is listed as the SIXTH member of this meeting. Here is the link to read more: http://www.freedmen.umd.edu/savmtg.htm.
ELLEN AND WILLIAM CRAFT
Speaking of courageous black people from Georgia, I can never get enough of Ellen and William Craft. Their daring escape from slavery in 1848 took them from their Macon, Georgia plantation through Philadelphia and Boston up into Canada and ultimately England, where the bounty hunters were guaranteed not to track them down. Ellen was a fair-skinned biracial woman dressed up as an injured man, with William acting as her servant. They pulled off one of the greatest escapes in American history and lived to tell the story.
Georgia giants continued making history when black women, including Stacey Abrams, decided to use their community and church-organizing skills to get people out to the polls, not once but twice. First to flip Georgia from red to blue by choosing Joe Biden/Kamala Harris for President/Vice President in November 2020. Then, flipping Georgia blue again with the historic election of a Black Baptist minister and a Jewish journalist for the two US Senate seats on January 6, 2021: Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff.
That's only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the countless contributions of black people throughout the ages. Nearly all aspects of American governance, policy, economics, education, commerce, art, culture, and religion intersect with the black community.
So don't even think about pivoting to "All History Matters," especially during February in America. You will be drowned out by the drum beats, gospel chorus chants, and poetic prowess of millions of black voices demanding a unique identity in the fabric of American society.
Black History IS American History!!!
The Association For The Study Of African American Life and History
Black History Month and Dr. Carter G. Woodson
During the dawning decades of the twentieth century, it was commonly presumed that black people had little history besides the subjugation of slavery. Today, it is clear that blacks have significantly impacted the development of the social, political, and economic structures of the United States and the world. Credit for the evolving awareness of the true place of blacks in history can, in large part, be bestowed on one man, Carter G. Woodson. And, his brainchild, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Inc., is continuing Woodson's tradition of disseminating information about black life, history, and culture to the global community.
Known as the "Father of Black History," Woodson (1875-1950) was the son of former slaves and understood how important gaining a proper education is when striving to secure and make the most out of one's divine right of freedom. Although he did not begin his formal education until he was 20 years old, his dedication to study enabled him to earn a high school diploma in West Virginia and bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Chicago in just a few years.
In 1912, Woodson became the second African American to earn a PhD at Harvard University. (W.E.B. DuBois was the first.)
Recognizing the dearth of information on the accomplishments of blacks in 1915, Dr. Woodson founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, now called the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH).
Under Woodson's pioneering leadership, the Association created research and publication outlets for black scholars with the establishment of the Journal of Negro History (1916) and the Negro History Bulletin (1937), which garners a popular public appeal.
In 1926, Dr. Woodson initiated the celebration of Negro History Week, which corresponded with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. In 1976, this celebration was expanded to include the entire month of February, and today Black History Month garners support throughout the country as people of all ethnic and social backgrounds discuss the black experience. ASALH views the promotion of Black History Month as one of the most important components of advancing Dr. Woodson's legacy.
In honor of all the work that Dr. Carter G. Woodson has done to promote the study of African American History, an ornament of Woodson hangs on the White House's Christmas tree each year.
Source: Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH)
By Korey Bowers Brown
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