Friday, February 27, 2009

Black History Month Part 2

"A race of people is like an individual man; until it uses its own talent, takes pride in its own history, expresses its own culture, affirms its own selfhood, it can never fulfill itself." --Malcolm X

Mae C. Jemison First African American woman in space (and possibly distantly related to me!)

Martin Luther King, Jr. One of the most visible advocates for non-violence during the Civil Rights Movement

Thurgood Marshall First African American appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court

Oscar Micheaux First African-American filmmaker, sometimes called the "Cecil DeMille of Race Movies"

Judy W. Reed was the first African-American woman to receive a patent in 1884 for a hand-operated machine used to knead and roll dough.

Sojourner Truth Campaigned for the abolition of slavery, against capital punishment, and in favor of women's rights

Harriet Tubman Freed herself from slavery, then spent her life working to free others through the Underground Railroad

Madame C.J. Walker Inventor, businesswoman, and self-made millionaire before 1920

Booker T. Washington Educator, head of Tuskegee Institute, champion of economic empowerment for Blacks through work and self-reliance

Malcolm X Powerful civil rights activist and spokesman for the Nation of Islam until his pilgrimage to Mecca in 1964

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Just in time for the inauguration...

...we are reminded that there is still, unfortunately, reason to be fearful and sad about the lack of progress in our society. At a time when there should be great growth and unity, instead there is an enormous surge in the number of people joining white supremacist groups and committing hate crimes. I have lived through hate crimes. My neighbors were white supremacists. We don't need more hate--we need more of our wounds to heal.

Suggested reading: The Hidden Wound by Wendell Berry. The most enlightening book I have EVER read on racism. You cannot hurt another person without hurting yourself.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Black History Month

We should emphasize not Negro History, but the Negro in history. What we need is not a history of selected races or nations, but the history of the world void of national bias, race hate, and religious prejudice.

- Dr. Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950) on founding Negro History Week, 1926

Black History Month (also known as African American Heritage Month) is a time to celebrate the historic achievements and contributions of African Americans to our society and our world. I remember growing up and learning about so many amazing African Americans who were positive role models for me, at a time when all we saw on TV were athletes and musicians. And that's pretty much all you see now, except that suddenly we have a Black president, which is practically a miracle.

This entry (and perhaps a few other ones) will be devoted to making known a few of the amazing Black Americans who have advanced our society, and historical events in which they have participated. I hope this is as fun for you as it is for me. :)

Marian Anderson Contralto performing classical reperatoire whose career included several European tours, performances at the New York Metropolitan Opera and at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.

Crispus Attucks The first American to die for the Revolutionary cause

Benjamin Banneker Astronomer and mathematician who carved one of the first clocks in America out of wood

Ralph Bunche Recipient of Nobel Peace Prize and United Nations mediator between Arabs and Jews in Palestine in the 1940s

George Washington Carver Scientist, researcher, and educator at what is now Tuskegee University

Paul Cuffee philanthropist, ship captain, and devout Quaker who hoped to settle free African–Americans in Sierra Leone, Africa in 1815; also founded the first integrated school in Massachusetts in 1797.

Benjamin O. Davis First African American general in the United States Army and commander of the 99th fighter squadron of the Tuskegee Airmen

Frederick Douglass Abolitionist, orator, and writer who fought against slavery

Charles R. Drew Founded world's two largest blood banks and developed preservation of blood plasma

W.E.B. DuBois Author, critic, editor, scholar, civil rights leader, and founding member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)

Langston Hughes Author, poet, and world traveler during the Harlem Renaissance.