Every year, the Association for the
Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) selects a theme for Black
History Month. This year, the theme, African Americans in Times of
War, is meant to commemorate the end of World War I, the war that
supposedly made the world “safe for democracy”. It is a
war that African Americans fought for the right to fight in, a war
that saw African Americans go abroad to fight for democracy, only to
come home and be oppressed by segregation. Undoubtedly, there will
be many programs designed to lift up this theme, which ASALH sees as
an opportunity to reflect on the African American role in all wars,
including the contemporary “war on terrorism”.
will you do to celebrate Black History Month? Many will participate
in programs at their schools or churches. Some will gather for
lunches and dinners and reflect on African American history.
However, I wonder how many will simply let the month of February
slide without doing anything to commemorate this month. Carter G.
Woodson, the founder of ASALH and Black History Month (originally
Negro History Week), would be spinning in his grave, if he knew how
few of us celebrate this month. (Of course, Black history is also
American history, and we ought to celebrate Black history every month
of the year!)
Eugene Williams, Sr. (a retired educator in the DC area) reached out
to professional basketball teams to ask them to feature Lift Every
Voice and Sing, the Negro National Anthem that was penned by James
Weldon Johnson sung at games in the month of February. He has
commitments from the Washington Wizards, the Cleveland Cavaliers, the
Golden State Warriors and George Washington University. Other teams,
including the LA Lakers and the Atlanta Hawks, are considering the
effort as well. Dr. Williams isn’t representing an
organization – he just had a great idea, and started calling
NBA team offices with his request.
will you do to celebrate Black History Month? Will you mount an
effort like Dr. Williams? His independent effort will have an impact
and ensure that NBA games commemorate Black history. What can you
do? Here are a few ideas:
Memberships range from $45 for students to $100 (or more for life
memberships). What better way to celebrate Black History Month than
by supporting the organization founded by the man who made our
TO VOTE! The struggle for the right to vote is an integral part
of our Black history. Rev. Jesse Jackson once said, “The hands
that picked peaches can now pick Presidents”. There are lots
of important races in 2018, and you honor Fannie Lou Hamer, Medgar
Evers, Dr. Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, and so many others with
SOMEONE MAKE BLACK HISTORY. In
Georgia, state legislator Stacey Abrams, is running for Governor.
She can win, too, if she can get the voter turnout and financial
support that she needs. If you live in Georgia, you can help this
woman become the first African American to be Governor of a southern
state. You can learn more about her and get involved in her campaign
by checking her out at www.staceyabrams.com.
Help this sister make history!
LEARNING BLACK HISTORY A FAMILY GAME. An
organization called Urban Intellectuals has developed two volumes of
flashcards that explore aspects of Black History. You can check them
out on Facebook, www.facebook.com/urban
intellectuals, order their cards, and learn more of our history.
A CHILD A GIFT OF A BLACK HISTORY BOOK. One of my favorites,
Preaching to the Chickens: The Story of Young John Lewis, by Jabari
Asim, celebrates a contemporary hero, Congressman John Lewis.
Another, Minty: The Story of a Young Harriet Tubman by Alan
Schroeder, tells the story of the Maryland icon who helped dozens of
enslaved people escape through the Underground Railroad (legend says
it is hundreds, but at Harriet Tubman Museum (operated by the
National Park Service in Church Creek, Maryland) researchers say some
of the estimates are too high. The Youngest Marcher: The Story of
Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist by Cynthia
Levinson will motivate young people to activism. Sit In: How Four
Friends Stood Up By Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian
Pinkney will also motivate young people to take on activist roles.
There are so many other things you
might do to celebrate Black History Month. Encourage your friends,
regardless of race, to learn more about the amazing story of African
American survival and resilience despite the racism that defines this
country. May your Black History Month be exciting and enlightening!