History Buzz February 24, 2014: Is Black History Month still needed?

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Is Black History Month still needed?

Source: USA TODAY, 2-24-14

They were born long after the Jim Crow laws that officially divided American society were banished to history’s dustbin. Their lives began more than 20 years after Martin Luther King was assassinated, and just 20 years before the nation….READ MORE

History Buzz February 18, 2014: Black History Month: 6 Facts About The Origins Of The Black History Celebration

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Black History Month: 6 Facts About The Origins Of The Black History Celebration

Source: International Business Times, 2-18-14

Every February, people across the nation celebrate Black History Month with lectures, parades, award ceremonies and numerous other events, all aimed at preserving and highlighting the immeasurable contributions of African-Americans to U.S. History….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency January 31, 2014: President Barack Obama Issues Presidential Proclamation for National African-American / Black History Month 2014

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Presidential Proclamation — National African American History Month, 2014

Source: WH, 1-31-14

NATIONAL AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY MONTH, 2014

- – - – - – -

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

Americans have long celebrated our Nation as a beacon of liberty and opportunity — home to patriots who threw off an empire, refuge to multitudes who fled oppression and despair. Yet we must also remember that while many came to our shores to pursue their own measure of freedom, hundreds of thousands arrived in chains. Through centuries of struggle, and through the toil of generations, African Americans have claimed rights long denied. During National African American History Month, we honor the men and women at the heart of this journey — from engineers of the Underground Railroad to educators who answered a free people’s call for a free mind, from patriots who proved that valor knows no color to demonstrators who gathered on the battlefields of justice and marched our Nation toward a brighter day.

As we pay tribute to the heroes, sung and unsung, of African-American history, we recall the inner strength that sustained millions in bondage. We remember the courage that led activists to defy lynch mobs and register their neighbors to vote. And we carry forward the unyielding hope that guided a movement as it bent the arc of the moral universe toward justice. Even while we seek to dull the scars of slavery and legalized discrimination, we hold fast to the values gained through centuries of trial and suffering.

Every American can draw strength from the story of hard-won progress, which not only defines the African-American experience, but also lies at the heart of our Nation as a whole. This story affirms that freedom is a gift from God, but it must be secured by His people here on earth. It inspires a new generation of leaders, and it teaches us all that when we come together in common purpose, we can right the wrongs of history and make our world anew.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim February 2014 as National African American History Month. I call upon public officials, educators, librarians, and all the people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of January, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.

BARACK OBAMA

Full Text February 22, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech at the Ground Breaking Ceremony for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Barack Obama speaks at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture site in Washington, D. C.

President Obama helps to dedicate a new museum for African-American history
President Obama at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

President Obama at the Ground Breaking Ceremony for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

Source: WH, 2-22-12

President Obama delivers remarks during the groundbreaking ceremony for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (February 22, 2012)
President Barack Obama delivers remarks during the groundbreaking ceremony for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture site in Washington, D. C., Feb. 22, 2012. First Lady Michelle Obama attended the event with the President and other participants included: former First Lady Laura Bush; Washington, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray; Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga.; Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas; Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts, pastor, Abyssian Baptist Church, New York; Lonnie Bunch, founding director of the museum; Richard Kurin, undersecretary for History, Art and Culture at the Smithsonian; Linda Johnson Rice and Richard Parsons, co-chairs of the museum’s advisory council; Dr. G. Wayne Clough, Secretary, The Smithsonian Institution; Lonnie Bunch, Founding Director, Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History and Culture; and Dr. France Córdova, Chair, Smithsonian Board of Regents. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

This morning, President Obama was on hand for the ground breaking at the site of the future Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

He told those assembled on the National Mall:

Just like the Air and Space Museum challenges us to set our sights higher, or the Natural History Museum encourages us to look closer, or the Holocaust Museum calls us to fight persecution wherever we find it, this museum should inspire us as well.  It should stand as proof that the most important things in life rarely come quickly or easily.  It should remind us that although we have yet to reach the mountaintop, we cannot stop climbing.

As he considered what the museum will mean and the history that it will cover, the President talked about what he wants his daughters to experience:

I want my daughters to see the shackles that bound slaves on their voyage across the ocean and the shards of glass that flew from the 16th Street Baptist church, and understand that injustice and evil exist in the world. But I also want them to hear Louis Armstrong’s horn and learn about the Negro League and read the poems of Phyllis Wheatley. And I want them to appreciate this museum not just as a record of tragedy, but as a celebration of life.

The National Museum of African American History and Culture was approved by the Smithsonian Board of Regents in 2006, and the new building is scheduled to open to the public in 2015. The museum will sit on a five acre site, between 14th and 15th Streets N.W. — near the Washington Monument.


Learn more

Watch: First Look at the Museum of African American History and Culture

When the Museum of African American History and Culture opens on the National Mall in 2015, it will be “not just a record of tragedy, but a celebration of life,” as President Obama said during the ground breaking ceremony on the site today.

The museum, the 19th in the Smithsonian Institution, will feature objects collected from across the country that tell the stories that make up the African American experience, including personal items that belonged to Harriet Tubman and one of the planes flown by the Tuskegee Airmen. Lonny Bunch, the museum’s Founding Director, gives us a first look at some of the treasures that will be on display…. Watch it now

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President at the Groundbreaking Ceremony of the National Museum of African American History and Culture

The National Mall

11:21 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you so much. Thank you so much.  Please, have a seat.  Thank you very much.  Well, good morning, everybody.

AUDIENCE:  Good morning.

THE PRESIDENT:  I want to thank France for that introduction and for her leadership at the Smithsonian.  I want to thank everybody who helped to make this day happen.  I want to thank Laura Bush; Secretary Salazar; Sam Brownback; my hero, Congressman John Lewis; Wayne Clough, and everybody who’s worked so hard to make this possible.

I am so proud of Lonnie Bunch, who came here from Chicago, I want to point out.  (Laughter and applause.)  I remember having a conversation with him about this job when he was planning to embark on this extraordinary journey.  And we could not be prouder of the work that he has done to help make this day possible.

I promise to do my part by being brief.

As others have mentioned, this day has been a long time coming.  The idea for a museum dedicated to African Americans was first put forward by black veterans of the Civil War.  And years later, the call was picked up by members of the civil rights generation -– by men and women who knew how to fight for what was right and strive for what is just.  This is their day.  This is your day.  It’s an honor to be here to see the fruit of your labor.

It’s also fitting that this museum has found a home on the National Mall.  As has been mentioned, it was on this ground long ago that lives were once traded, where hundreds of thousands once marched for jobs and for freedom.  It was here that the pillars of our democracy were built, often by black hands.  And it is on this spot –- alongside the monuments to those who gave birth to this nation, and those who worked so hard to perfect it –- that generations will remember the sometimes difficult, often inspirational, but always central role that African Americans have played in the life of our country.

This museum will celebrate that history.  Because just as the memories of our earliest days have been confined to dusty letters and faded pictures, the time will come when few people remember drinking from a colored water fountain, or boarding a segregated bus, or hearing in person Dr. King’s voice boom down from the Lincoln Memorial.  That’s why what we build here won’t just be an achievement for our time, it will be a monument for all time.  It will do more than simply keep those memories alive.

Just like the Air and Space Museum challenges us to set our sights higher, or the Natural History Museum encourages us to look closer, or the Holocaust Museum calls us to fight persecution wherever we find it, this museum should inspire us as well.  It should stand as proof that the most important things in life rarely come quickly or easily.  It should remind us that although we have yet to reach the mountaintop, we cannot stop climbing.

And that’s why, in moments like this, I think about Malia and Sasha.  I think about my daughters and I think about your children, the millions of visitors who will stand where we stand long after we’re gone.  And I think about what I want them to experience.  I think about what I want them to take away.

When our children look at Harriet Tubman Shaw or Nat Turner’s bible or the plane flown by Tuskegee Airmen, I don’t want them to be seen as figures somehow larger than life.  I want them to see how ordinary Americans could do extraordinary things; how men and women just like them had the courage and determination to right a wrong, to make it right.

I want my daughters to see the shackles that bound slaves on their voyage across the ocean and the shards of glass that flew from the 16th Street Baptist church, and understand that injustice and evil exist in the world.  But I also want them to hear Louis Armstrong’s horn and learn about the Negro League and read the poems of Phyllis Wheatley.  And I want them to appreciate this museum not just as a record of tragedy, but as a celebration of life.

When future generations hear these songs of pain and progress and struggle and sacrifice, I hope they will not think of them as somehow separate from the larger American story.  I want them to see it as central — an important part of our shared story.  A call to see ourselves in one another.  A call to remember that each of us is made in God’s image.  That’s the history we will preserve within these walls.  The history of a people who, in the words of Dr. King, “injected new meaning and dignity into the veins of civilization.”

May we remember their stories.  May we live up to their example.  Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

END
11:28 A.M. EST

History Buzz February 22, 2012: Daryl Michael Scott: Historian finds Carter G. Woodson manuscript

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Historian finds Woodson manuscript

Source: West Virgina NPR, 2-22-12

A Howard University professor visited Marshall University yesterday to discuss his discovery of Dr. Carter G. Woodson’s lost manuscript.

Woodson was a graduate of Douglass High School in Huntington and later served as the school’s principal, as well as dean of what is now West Virginia State University. He was the second African American to earn a Ph.D from Harvard University and the only offspring of former slaves to receive a doctorate in history from any university.

Daryl Michael Scott of Howard University discovered the manuscript in a storage container about five years ago and then had it authenticated. Scott published the manuscript as “Carter G. Woodson’s Appeal: The Lost Manuscript.”

Scott says he knew immediately it was something new.

“I knew everything that he had written, so I knew I had never read this and I knew it was his because I knew his handwriting and I knew how he wrote, his writings were in the margins of the manuscript, it was type written, but in the margins he had made notes and made changes and I knew his handwriting,” Scott said.

Scott is also vice president of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History which was founded by Woodson in 1915. Woodson is widely known as the “father of African American history.”

Woodson came up with the idea for Negro History Week in 1926, which is now Black History Month. Woodson also started the influential “Journal of Negro History” in 1916. Scott says to read work that went unpublished for so long was quite an experience.

“Indeed I felt fortunate to find the manuscript and I had a friend who said for all your hard work you’ve come across this manuscript and doesn’t it make it worth all of it and quite often I say no, but in fact it does, the fact that you can find a manuscript by someone who has been so influential in American Life and African-American life it’s been a good feeling,” Scott said….READ MORE

History Buzz February 10, 2012: Peniel Joseph: Stetson University presents civil rights / social justice lecture by historian

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Peniel Joseph: Stetson University presents civil rights/social justice lecture by historian

Source: Florida Courier, 2-10-12

Stetson University presents author and historian Dr. Peniel Joseph to speak on “Stokely Carmichael and American Democracy in the 1960s” as part of the university’s civil rights and social justice lecture series, at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23. The lecture will be held in the Rinker Auditorium of the Lynn Business Center, 345 N. Woodland Blvd., DeLand, and is free and open to the public.

Joseph, a professor of history at Tufts University, is currently working on a biography of Black Power icon Stokely Carmichael and his involvement in the American Civil Rights Movement, and that will be the focus of Joseph’s lecture at Stetson.

Carmichael, who later changed his name to Kwame Ture, was a well-known black activist in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. He was involved in such organizations as the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and participated in the Freedom Rides. He was one of the authors of the manifesto “Black Power.” Carmichael spoke at Stetson in 1997 and died the following year.
Professor Joseph is the author of the award-winning Waiting ‘til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America and Dark Days, Bright Nights: From Black Power to Barack Obama, as well as editor of The Black Power Movement: Rethinking the Civil Rights-Black Power Era and Neighborhood Rebels: Black Power at the Local Level.

Joseph is the founder of the “Black Power Studies” subfield whose reverberations have widely impacted interdisciplinary scholarship within the academy and popular conceptions of civil rights and Black Power outside of it. He is a frequent national commentator on issues of race, democracy, and civil rights who has appeared on CNN, MSNC, and NPR. During the 2008 presidential election he provided historical analysis for the PBS News Hour with Jim Lehrer.

For more information, contact the Office of the Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences at (386) 822-7515.

History Buzz February 9, 2012: Hasan Jeffries: ‘New wave’ Civil Rights historian shares untold past

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‘New wave’ Civil Rights historian shares untold past

Source: The DePauw News, 2-9-12

 Martin Luther King, Jr. and Jackie Robinson made great strides for Civil Rights, but Ohio State University professor Hasan Jeffries says social movements take more than just a great individual.

“When you focus on an individual or an individual organization, you miss a lot more that’s going on,” Jeffries said.

The history professor visited DePauw Wednesday afternoon to deliver a lecture stemming from his doctoral dissertation on the intersection of the 1966 elections and start of the Black Power movement in Lowndes County, Alabama.

John Ditma, a former DePauw University history professor who introduced Jeffries, said the young professor is on the “cutting edge” of a “new wave of Civil Rights history.”

But Jeffries said he doesn’t think he has discovered anything new. “It’s not about creating new history,” he said. “It’s about reemphasizing the history we do have and whose voice is heard.”…READ MORE

History Buzz February 9, 2012: Dr. Boyce Watkins: What is President Obama’s Role in Black History?

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What is President Obama’s Role in Black History?

As I’ve run around the country giving Black History Month speeches, I’ve been thinking a great deal about where we are and where we are going as a community; I’ve also been asked about President Barack Obama’s role in Black history. Since the 44th president’s existence has been entirely complex and phenomenal — all at the same time — that becomes an extremely tough question to answer.

The first Black POTUS has always been considered the holy grail of African American achievements.  Most of us didn’t think we’d have a Black president for another 100 years.  We also didn’t consider the fact that the first Black president could have easily been a Republican (Former Secretary of State Colin Powell). Yet here we are, with some of us having more access to power than we’ve ever had before, and it’s turning into a mess.

One of the great challenges of being Black in America is that we sometimes become heavily dependent on our historical oppressors to validate our success.  We forget that the most successful African American on the plantation was not the one who made it into the big house; it was actually the one who escaped.

African Americans contributed heavily to the success of the Obama presidential campaign, but millions of white Americans had to give their stamp of approval before he was allowed into office.  So, to consider the first Black president to be the most accomplished African American in history moves us dangerously close to saying that getting approval from white America somehow makes you into a better human being.

Another thing we must be careful about is comparing Barack Obama to Martin Luther King, Jr. Not that one (a Civil Rights Activist) is better than the other (President of the United States), but in many cases, they are diametrically opposed.  No one can say what the relationship between Dr. King and President Obama would be if King were alive, but given that one of them (Dr. King) spoke endlessly about the ills of poverty, militarism and racial inequality, it’s not hard to imagine that the two might be at odds with one another…READ MORE

History Buzz February 8, 2012: Allen Ballard: Amtrak Showcases the Great Migration Exhibit in Honor of Black History Month

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Amtrak Showcases the Great Migration Exhibit in Honor of Black History Month

Exhibit featured on MyBlackJourney.com website

Source: PR Newswire, 2-8-12

In celebration of Black History Month, Amtrak is featuring the Great Migration of African Americans exhibit on their MyBlackJourney.com  microsite.  The Great Migration exhibit chronicles the exodus of thousands of African Americans from the rural South aboard America’s passenger trains to the Northeast and other regions of the country in search of better wages and job opportunities.

“America’s passenger trains played a pivotal role in transporting African Americans from the Deep South to the Northeast, West and Midwest during the Great Migration of the early 1900s,” said, Emmet H. Fremaux, Amtrak Vice President of Marketing and Product Development.  “As we celebrate Black History Month, Amtrak is pleased to bring this historical exhibit to a broader audience while educating and introducing train travel to a new generation of passengers.”

The exhibit includes audio commentary from noted author, historian and Professor Dr. Allen Ballard of the State University of New York at Albany (SUNY – Albany). Dr. Ballard’s commentary includes his insights and personal knowledge of the Great Migration and excerpts from his book, One More Days Journey, The Story of a Family and A People which chronicles one family’s journey during the Great Migration.  Additionally, actor and playwright Lamman Rucker, star of Tyler Perry’s House of Payne shares his family’s Great Migration train journey from Lynchburg, Virginia and Aberdeen, Maryland to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C. and various cities in New Jersey   Both Rucker and Dr. Ballard encourage visitors to the site to share their Great Migration stories on the MyBlackJourney.com interactive microsite as well as answer trivia questions for a chance to win a prize package including free Amtrak travel vouchers, tickets to Layon Gray’s Off-Broadway play, Black Angels Over Tuskegee, an autographed copy of Dr. Ballard’s book and other exciting prizes….READ MORE  

History Buzz February 8, 2012: Black History Month Facts 2012

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Black History Month Facts 2012

Source: Newsmax.com, 2-8-12

Black History Month, occurring each February, is a month dedicated to celebrating and remembering the history, accomplishments, and triumphs of black American culture, is in full swing.

According to Biography.com, Dr. Carter G. Woodson and Rev. Jesse E. Moorland wanted to highlight the often overlooked role black people played in both American and world history.

To accomplish this goal, they co-founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History.

The pair hoped that their various projects would help instill their race with a sense of pride.

Woodson later founded “Negro History and Literature Week” in 1920, while he was a member of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity at Harvard University. Woodson later became the second black person to receive a degree from Harvard.

He chose February as the month of celebration to honor Abraham Lincoln, and leading abolitionist Frederick Douglass.

Black History Month is now widely recognized and celebrated throughout the month of February.

The following are some interesting facts about influential African Americans “firsts” in politics.

  •  John Mercer Langston was elected town clerk of Brownhelm Township, Ohio in 1855, making him the first local elected official.
  • Hiram Revels was elected Senator for Mississippi in 1870 during Reconstruction.
  • William Henry Hastie became the first federal judge in 1946, followed by Constance
  • Ralph J. Bunche received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1950 after mediating the Arab-Israeli truce. Martin Luther King, Jr. followed in his footsteps becoming the second recipient of the prize in 1964.
  • Baker Motley, the first African American female judge in 1966.
  • Thurgood Marshall is elected U.S. Supreme Court Justice in in 1967.
  • Andrew Young is elected U.S. Representative to the UN in 1977.
  • L. Douglas Wilder was elected governor of Virginia in 1990.
  • Clarence Thomas became the second African American to serve on the Court in 1991.
  • Sgt. William H. Carney was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1900 for bravery during the Civil War.
  • Gen. Colin Powell was elected U.S. Secretary of State in 2001
  • Condoleezza Rice, first African American female Secretary of State, was elected in 2005.
  • Sen. Barack Obama defeated Sen. John McCain in the general election on November 4, 2008, and was inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States on January 20, 2009, making him the first African American president.

 

History Buzz February 2, 2012: Victoria Wolcott: University of Buffalo Professor examines 20th-century color line

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Wolcott examines 20th-century color line

Source: University of Buffalo Reporter, 2-2-12

Historian Victoria Wolcott teaches courses on the history of civil rights, African-American history and urban history. Photo: DOUGLAS LEVERE

“The black-and-white dichotomy shapes so much of the (20th century’s) political, cultural and social life.”

Victoria Wolcott Associate Professor of History

The phrase “color line” was used as a reference to the racial segregation that existed in the U.S. after the abolition of slavery. First mentioned in an 1881 article by Frederick Douglass, the phrase gained fame when W.E.B. DuBois cemented it in his landmark 1903 treatise, “The Souls of Black Folk.”

“DuBois said that the story of the 20th century will be the color line and he was absolutely right,” observes Victoria Wolcott, associate professor in the Department of History. “The black-and-white dichotomy shapes so much of the (century’s) political, cultural and social life.”

Influenced by her mother, who she describes as an early feminist with an interest in social justice issues, Wolcott began to explore the effects of that color line as a graduate student at the University of Michigan. In the process, she has become a noted 20th-century historian.

She arrived at UB last fall after five years of teaching at St. Bonaventure University in Olean and nine years at the University of Rochester. She teaches UB graduates and undergraduates the history of civil rights, African-American history and urban history, along with several permutations of those areas, she says, such as the “Race in American Cities” seminar she conducted in her first semester that combined her interests in race, labor and urban history.

Those interests led her to develop her first book from her graduate dissertation, “Remaking Respectability: African American Women in Interwar Detroit,” which was published in 2001.

The book looks at African-American women in Detroit and how their work, culture and politics helped shape the life of the city. “I found that African-American women really were excluded from not only white-collar employment, but from blue-collar as well. The one niche area where they were able to find employment was domestic service,” she relates. “So they created opportunities for themselves by opening businesses, by engaging in what we call the informal economy, which can be anything from running numbers to more illicit kinds of activities. They had a kind of creative response to these restrictions that were placed upon them because of racial discrimination in the job market.”

The study made a significant impact. The book is being used in graduate courses in particular, but also to some extent in undergraduate courses in women’s history and African-American history. “I think I was at the beginning of what has really developed as a new sub-field in African-American women’s history when the book was published in 2001,” says Wolcott. “It was part of this new, growing field of research for people who were interested in the Great Migration of African Americans, urban history and women’s history.”

After a decade of research, her second book, “Race, Riots and Roller Coasters: The Struggle Over Segregated Recreation in America,” will be published in August by University of Pennsylvania Press. To some extent, this derived from her work on the first book.

“I was struck by the extent to which all sorts of public accommodations—particularly recreational spaces—were segregated. We associate that kind of Jim Crow segregation with southern cities and communities, and yet it’s very, very pervasive in the north,” she explains. “I was interested in thinking to what extent is segregation and the struggle against segregation a national story, not a southern story.”…READ MORE

Full Text January 31, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Presidential Proclamation National African American / Black History Month, 2012

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Presidential Proclamation — National African American History Month, 2012

NATIONAL AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY MONTH, 2012

- – - – - – -

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

     The story of African Americans is a story of resilience and perseverance.  It traces a people who refused to accept the circumstances under which they arrived on these shores, and it chronicles the generations who fought for an America that truly reflects the ideals enshrined in our founding documents.  It is the narrative of slaves who shepherded others along the path to freedom and preachers who organized against the rules of Jim Crow, of young people who sat-in at lunch counters and ordinary men and women who took extraordinary risks to change our Nation for the better.  During National African American History Month, we celebrate the rich legacy of African Americans and honor the remarkable contributions they have made to perfecting our Union.

This year’s theme, “Black Women in American Culture and History,” invites us to pay special tribute to the role African American women have played in shaping the character of our Nation — often in the face of both racial and gender discrimination.  As courageous visionaries who led the fight to end slavery and tenacious activists who fought to expand basic civil rights to all Americans, African American women have long served as champions of social and political change.  And from the literary giants who gave voice to their communities to the artists whose harmonies and brush strokes captured hardships and aspirations, African American women have forever enriched our cultural heritage.  Today, we stand on the shoulders of countless African American women who shattered glass ceilings and advanced our common goals.  In recognition of their legacy, let us honor their heroic and historic acts for years to come.

The achievements of African American women are not limited to those recorded and retold in our history books.  Their impact is felt in communities where they are quiet heroes who care for their families, in boardrooms where they are leaders of industry, in laboratories where they are discovering new technologies, and in classrooms where they are preparing the next generation for the world they will inherit.  As we celebrate the successes of African American women, we recall that progress did not come easily, and that our work to widen the circle of opportunity for all Americans is not complete.  With eyes cast toward new horizons, we must press on in pursuit of a high-quality education for every child, a job for every American who wants one, and a fair chance at prosperity for every individual and family across our Nation.

During National African American History Month, we pay tribute to the contributions of past generations and reaffirm our commitment to keeping the American dream alive for the next generation.  In honor of those women and men who paved the way for us, and with great expectations for those to follow, let us continue the righteous cause of making America what it should be – a Nation that is more just and more equal for all its people.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim February 2012 as National African American History Month.  I call upon public officials, educators, librarians, and all the people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of January, in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.

BARACK OBAMA

History Buzz Special: Black History Month 2011

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History Buzz

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

HISTORY BUZZ SPECIAL: BLACK HISTORY MONTH

http://www.flagstaff.az.gov/images/pages/N2172//black-history-month.jpg

IN FOCUS:

  • African American History Month — Library of CongressLOC
  • Black History Month and its significance: The election of Barack Obama into the United States’ Presidential Office was a monumentally historic event for African-Americans, Africans and the entire world.
    Some people don’t like to pull the ‘race card’ when talking about Obama becoming president of the United States, but in my opinion, that is something that cannot be overlooked. Some people also minimise the significance of Obama, a person of colour, making it into the White House by saying that he is not 100 percent black, but is instead bi-racial. ‘Whatever,’ is what I say to that; it is noteworthy that part of Obama’s family and ancestry can be traced to and still lives in Kenya. Anyone who is familiar with the painful history of slavery in the United States surely can appreciate how significant a historic event Obama’s election as 44th president of the United States of America is. When the conscious people in the US celebrate Black History Month this year, they will look to this most recent accomplishment of an African- American with great pride and reflect on what a long journey it has been for African-Americans.
    The month of February in the US is commemorated as Black History Month. During this month, African- Americans, who have helped change the world, are commemorated by people of all walks of life. Black History Month began as “Negro History Week,” which was created in 1926 by Carter G. Woodson, a noted African- American historian, scholar, educator, and publisher. It became a month-long celebration in 1976. The month of February was chosen to coincide with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass (one of the foremost leaders of the abolitionist movement, which fought to end slavery within the US in the decades before the Civil War) and Abraham Lincoln (16th US president most remembered for his Emancipation Proclamation, which declared slaves free).
    During Black History Month, universities offer special lectures; television broadcasters air black-history related programming, people gather at fairs organised to celebrate Black History Month and artists, mostly reggae, perform to crowds of the Afro-centric thinker….
    So, why is Black History Month important and necessary? As a firm believer in the importance of history in the present, I offer that it is for that reason that Black History Month is important and necessary. In order to really have an appreciation for where one stands in the present, then one must look at the past….. – MMEGI
  • Clarence Page: Sadly, Black History Month still needed: “This library is not for coloreds.” That’s what Ron McNair, a 9-year-old black South Carolina kid, was told at his local public library in 1959, his older brother Carl McNair recalls….
    Flash forward. Ronald Ervin McNair is better known today for the tragedy that ended his life. He died when the space shuttle Challenger exploded 25 years ago on Jan. 28. In his hometown, Lake City, S.C., the renovated building that housed that library is being renamed after him.
    Appropriately, the observations came as Black History Month events began. That also means a return of arguments — some of them more polite than others — about whether we still need Black History Month at all, especially now that the nation has an African-American president.
    Yet, every time I begin to think we can relax special efforts to remember this nation’s grand racial epic of sorrow and triumph, I am jerked alert by events like some recent ones that show how easily history can be forgotten or twisted even by major newsmakers…. – The Detroit News, 2-13-11
  • Black History Month, it is time to get rid of this celebration: Martin Luther King Jr. was among these, ironically, as he dreamed of a day when people would “not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” If we’re teaching about black Americans, or white Americans, or Hispanic Americans, or Asian Americans, we’re doing the exact opposite of what the great reverend preached – we’re accentuating the differences between us, not erasing them.
    We tell children that they should not judge people by their color, then confuse them by insisting that they study a person because that person is black. Famous Amos was included in the assignment! Now, I love cookies as much as the next guy, but having kids read about Famous Amos simply because he was a successful black American is nothing short of ludicrous. Many of these same children have never heard of Gandhi, Churchill or even Ulysses S. Grant. And yet we’re teaching them about Famous Amos before we teach them about George C. Marshall. This is not only diversity on the cheap, but it’s bad educational policy, too…. – NY Daily News, 2-4-11
  • Books roundup: Black history: February is Black History Month, and a popular time for new books about African Americans. USA TODAY looks at four notable titles….
    Jessica B. Harris: High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey From Africa to America
    Clarence Lusane: The Black History of the White House
    Clarence B. Jones and Stuart Connelly: Behind the Dream: The Making of the Speech That Transformed a Nation
    Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts: Harlem Is Nowhere: A Journey to the Mecca of Black AmericaUSA Today, 2-17-11
  • Black History Month: 7 great books for teens: From gritty memoir to evocative fiction, these stories offer powerful lessons about race in America…. – CS Monitor, 2-7-11
  • Black History Month: How to inspire and teach Notable African-Americans offer ways to share the message behind Black History Month: We asked prominent African-Americans to recommend a book, musical composition, movie, play, painting or other work that will teach children of all races and ages lessons about black history. “Frankly, I am so tired of hearing (about) the same old music and about the same old books every February,” said author David Bradley, associate professor of creative writing at the University of Oregon. “Black History Month has gotten to be like Christmas — same old carols, same old cards. … There’s so much more to celebrate than we ever get around to celebrating, or even experiencing.”… – Chicago Tribune, 2-1-11
  • Black History Month: How has Obama changed it?: In that survey, Obama didn’t just make the top 10 of the more than 170 black leaders considered; he ranked second, bested only by King and beating black historical figures such as Harriet Tubman, W.E.B. Du Bois, Thurgood Marshall and Rosa Parks.
    The president’s ranking has set off a heated debate in the comment section of the Grio’s post on the results. And the effect Obama has on black history and Black History Month remains to be seen.
    It might well be the case that Obama’s presidency has allowed the United States to reexamine the history of African Americans under a new lens and with a stronger focus. But there’s also the risk of an Obama vacuum of sorts: The Obama presidency might take attention away from the sacrifices of countless African Americans since the country’s inception. Some even argue that a black man in the White House eliminates the need for us to celebrate Black History Month…. – WaPo, 2-1-11
  • Presidential Proclamation — National African American History Month A PROCLAMATION: In the centuries since African Americans first arrived on our shores, they have known the bitterness of slavery and oppression, the hope of progress, and the triumph of the American Dream. African American history is an essential thread of the American narrative that traces our Nation’s enduring struggle to perfect itself. Each February, we recognize African American History Month as a moment to reflect upon how far we have come as a Nation, and what challenges remain. This year’s theme, “The History of Black Economic Empowerment,” calls upon us to honor the African Americans who overcame injustice and inequality to achieve financial independence and the security of self empowerment that comes with it.
    Nearly 100 years after the Civil War, African Americans still faced daunting challenges and indignities. Widespread racial prejudice inhibited their opportunities, and institutional discrimination such as black codes and Jim Crow laws denied them full citizenship rights. Despite these seemingly impossible barriers, pioneering African Americans blazed trails for themselves and their children. They became skilled workers and professionals. They purchased land, and a new generation of black entrepreneurs founded banks, educational institutions, newspapers, hospitals, and businesses of all kinds.
    This month, we recognize the courage and tenacity of so many hard-working Americans whose legacies are woven into the fabric of our Nation. We are heirs to their extraordinary progress. Racial prejudice is no longer the steepest barrier to opportunity for most African Americans, yet substantial obstacles remain in the remnants of past discrimination. Structural inequalities — from disparities in education and health care to the vicious cycle of poverty — still pose enormous hurdles for black communities across America.
    Overcoming today’s challenges will require the same dedication and sense of urgency that enabled past generations of African Americans to rise above the injustices of their time. That is why my Administration is laying a new foundation for long-term economic growth that helps more than just a privileged few. We are working hard to give small businesses much-needed credit, to slash tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas, and to give those same breaks to companies that create jobs here at home. We are also reinvesting in our schools and making college more affordable, because a world class education is our country’s best roadmap to prosperity.
    These initiatives will expand opportunities for African Americans, and for all Americans, but parents and community leaders must also be partners in this effort. We must push our children to reach for the full measure of their potential, just as the innovators who succeeded in previous generations pushed their children to achieve something greater. In the volumes of black history, much remains unwritten. Let us add our own chapter, full of progress and ambition, so that our children’s children will know that we, too, did our part to erase an unjust past and build a brighter future.
    NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim February 2010 as National African American History Month. I call upon public officials, educators, librarians, and all the people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.
    IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of February, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth.
    BARACK OBAMA — WH, 2-1-11
  • Presidential Proclamation–National African American History Month: The great abolitionist and orator Frederick Douglass once told us, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” Progress in America has not come easily, but has resulted from the collective efforts of generations. For centuries, African American men and women have persevered to enrich our national life and bend the arc of history toward justice. From resolute Revolutionary War soldiers fighting for liberty to the hardworking students of today reaching for horizons their ancestors could only have imagined, African Americans have strengthened our Nation by leading reforms, overcoming obstacles, and breaking down barriers. During National African American History Month, we celebrate the vast contributions of African Americans to our Nation’s history and identity.
    This year’s theme, “African Americans and the Civil War,” invites us to reflect on 150 years since the start of the Civil War and on the patriots of a young country who fought for the promises of justice and equality laid out by our forbearers. In the Emancipation Proclamation, President Abraham Lincoln not only extended freedom to those still enslaved within rebellious areas, he also opened the door for African Americans to join the Union effort.
    Tens of thousands of African Americans enlisted in the United States Army and Navy, making extraordinary sacrifices to help unite a fractured country and free millions from slavery. These gallant soldiers, like those in the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, served with distinction, braving both intolerance and the perils of war to inspire a Nation and expand the domain of freedom. Beyond the battlefield, black men and women also supported the war effort by serving as surgeons, nurses, chaplains, spies, and in other essential roles. These brave Americans gave their energy, their spirit, and sometimes their lives for the noble cause of liberty.
    Over the course of the next century, the United States struggled to deliver fundamental civil and human rights to African Americans, but African Americans would not let their dreams be denied. Though Jim Crow segregation slowed the onward march of history and expansion of the American dream, African Americans braved bigotry and violence to organize schools, churches, and neighborhood organizations. Bolstered by strong values of faith and community, black men and women have launched businesses, fueled scientific advances, served our Nation in the Armed Forces, sought public office, taught our children, and created groundbreaking works of art and entertainment. To perfect our Union and provide a better life for their children, tenacious civil rights pioneers have long demanded that America live up to its founding principles, and their efforts continue to inspire us.
    Though we inherit the extraordinary progress won by the tears and toil of our predecessors, we know barriers still remain on the road to equal opportunity. Knowledge is our strongest tool against injustice, and it is our responsibility to empower every child in America with a world-class education from cradle to career. We must continue to build on our Nation’s foundation of freedom and ensure equal opportunity, economic security, and civil rights for all Americans. After a historic recession has devastated many American families, and particularly African Americans, we must continue to create jobs, support our middle class, and strengthen pathways for families to climb out of poverty.
    During National African American History Month, we recognize the extraordinary achievements of African Americans and their essential role in shaping the story of America. In honor of their courage and contributions, let us resolve to carry forward together the promise of America for our children.
    NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim February 2011 as National African American History Month. I call upon public officials, educators, librarians, and all the people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.
    IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of February, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.
    BARACK OBAMA — WH, 2-1-11
  • Biden, guests honor Black History Month: Progress has been made in civil rights, but the United States still has more to do, Vice President Joe Biden said during a celebration of Black History Month.
    Biden offered tribute to the more than 120 black elected officials and guests at the U.S. Naval Observatory Tuesday, saying, “The best way to celebrate history is to make it.”
    On the day that civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., received the Medal of Freedom, Biden spoke of the “halting” but ongoing fight for equality in the United States.
    “Sometimes the people most burdened in life have to add more burdens upon themselves so that others can have their burdens lifted from them,” the vice president said.
    He recalled two times when he stood on a train platform in Wilmington, Del. Once was in 1968 when he and Wilmington Mayor James Baker, an attendee, saw the city devastated by rioting following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Forty years later, Biden said, he stood on the same platform waiting to board a train that carried newly elected President Barack Obama, the first black commander in chief of the United States.
    Waiting for the train and recalling the riots, Biden said he remembered thinking, “We may have a lot more to do, but damn, we’ve come a long way.” – UPI, 2-16-11
  • Remarks by the President at “In Performance At The White House: The Motown Sound”: No one knows exactly when jazz began. Nobody knows who the first person was to sing a freedom song. But we know where Motown came from. We know it was born in the basement of a house on West Grand Boulevard in the Motor City — Detroit. (Applause.) And we know it started with a man named Berry Gordy, who is here with us tonight. Stand up, Berry. (Applause.)? ?
    Now, apparently Berry tried a lot of things before following his heart into music. A high school dropout, he failed as a record store owner, competed as an amateur boxer, finally took a job earning $85 a week on the assembly line at the local Lincoln-Mercury plant. And it was there, watching the bare metal frames transformed into gleaming automobiles, that Berry wondered why he couldn’t do the same thing with musicians, and help turn new talent into stars.? ?
    And before long, he quit his job at the plant, borrowed $800, and set up shop in a little house with a banner across the front that read “Hitsville, U.S.A.” His family thought he was delusional. (Laughter.) But as Berry said, “People thought the Wright Brothers had a stupid idea, so I say, ‘Bring on the stupid ideas.’”? ?
    As it turned out, Berry could recognize talent and potential better than anybody else in the business. It began with Smokey Robinson, who stopped by the Motown house with a group of friends calling themselves the Miracles. Then came one of Smokey’s neighbors -– a high school senior named Diana Ross, who started out working as a secretary. One of the Miracles brought along his little brother, who invited a 10-year-old blind kid named Stephen Hardaway Judkins to tag along. (Laughter.) And then there was a group called the Jackson Five, fresh from amateur night at the Apollo, that Gladys Knight told Berry he just had to see.? ?
    Pretty soon, the basement studio was turning out hits faster than Detroit was turning out cars. From 1961 to 1971, Motown produced 110 Top 10 hits from artists like Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, The Four Tops and The Supremes. In the process, Motown’s blend of tight lyrics, catchy melodies and deep soul began to blur the line between music that was considered either “black” or “white.” As Smokey Robinson said, “I recognized the bridges that were crossed, the racial problems and the barriers that we broke down with music. I recognized that because I lived it.”? ?
    Along the way, songs like “Dancing in the Streets” and “What’s Going On” became the soundtrack of the civil rights era. Black artists began soaring to the top of the pop charts for the first time. And at concerts in the South, Motown groups literally brought people together –- insisting that the ropes traditionally used to separate black and white audience members be taken down.? ?
    So, today, more than 50 years later, that’s the Motown legacy. Born at a time of so much struggle, so much strife, it taught us that what unites us will always be stronger than what divides us. And in the decades since, those catchy beats and simple chords have influenced generations of musicians, from Sheryl Crow to the Jonas Brothers. – WH, 2-24-11
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