All Articles Tagged "black history"
By j.n. salters
This letter is for my mother. Our mothers. Grandmothers. Aunts. Sisters. And all of the other black women who continue to raise black and brown warriors in this battlefield we call America. Who constantly find ways to make ends meet—in a world that continually fails to acknowledge your worth and beauty—just to keep smiles on our faces. To the only women who can grow roses from concrete. Turn scraps into Thanksgiving feasts. Who continue to love hard and wholeheartedly even when the world attempts to steal your joy. Still you rise.
I just want to say thank you. And that you are appreciated. Loved. Beautiful. Needed. I need you. WE NEED YOU. You deserve so much more than the words on this page. Than your lived realities. Than the media portrayals that negate your wonder. And caricature your splendor. Than the statistics that mock your circumstance. Ignoring your God-like abilities to raise invisible toy soldiers into Gabby Douglases and Quvenzhané Wallises. Turning forgotten flesh into souls on fire.
You deserve to have your faces carved into mountains. Plastered on dollar bills covering the faces of presidents who have stolen from you. Used your image against you. Lied to you. Made your plight invisible. You deserve to have your brown skin on every milk carton and news segment that privilege missing bodies that do not look like yours or your children’s. On the cover of every newspaper that fills its pages with stories of your fabricated inferiority. Leaving your existence in the margins. Near the end. At the back. We are Rosa Parks.
I wish everyone could see you from my eyes. Read the deep history embedded in your rich skin. The pigment of your imagination. The secrets that you hold in the arch of your back. How the sway of your hips creates masterpieces out of thin air. Reclaiming the fetishized movements of Sarah Baartman. How your thick-lipped words echo the endurance of Sojourner Truth. Ida B. Wells. Wilma Rudolph. Harriet Tubman. The everlasting effervescence of your soul that refuses to be broken. The miniature North Stars shining from your crescent-like eyes, leading us lost ones to freedom. Giving us the ability to dodge stray bullets. Dreams deferred. Project hallways turned Middle Passages.
I pray that they will someday see you. In me. In US.
One of your daughters
Nowadays, kids are no playing Chutes and Ladders or Candyland, but Playstation and Farmville. Getting their interest can be a challenge. An Atlanta based company has decided to create some fun educational apps with this in mind.
Lucy Holified, the chief executive of Identity Kids LLC, is making a move is this space understanding that apps targeted at African American kids are untapped in the $38 billion apps market. “I believe the timing is right to leverage our unique content to serve a market that has been largely overlooked,” she says.
Holified and her team plan to launch as many as 10 mobile apps this fall that combine education, black facts, and fun that are targeted at black kids.
Some apps I like that can help teach youngsters about black history are the Then and Now Series: Black History by CM Innovations that allow you to view bios and videos of black activists, or Black History in An Hour, which gives you a crash course in black history right from your phone, and especially for smaller kids the Myles & Ayesha- Black Inventors Match Game by Uplift Inc., that plays the match game to link black inventors with the inventions they created.
We have to adjust with the times to keeps kids engaged. Using black history apps seems like a great way for kids to learn about their roots, while having fun.
Follow CAP on Twitter: @in_allcaps
The morning following last month’s presidential inauguration, you may have scrolled through your Facebook feed only to find the above collage with a caption that read, “Based solely on historical contributions, should Jay and Bey be in this collage?” Call me a progressive-thinker, or maybe it’s because I spend a majority of my days with teens who have to explain to me what words like “trappin’” and “ratchet” mean, but I found myself wondering, “Why wouldn’t they be?” Meanwhile, co-workers and Facebookers truly surprised me with responses like, “They haven’t broken any racial barriers or anything,” and “Beyoncé and Barack don’t even belong in the same category.”
I beg to differ. And the question then becomes, what does it take to be considered “black history”? The significant contributions of those that today’s youth identify with may not be sit-ins for social change or marches breaking racial barriers, but does that make them any less a part of our culture? Yesterday’s Jackie Robinsons are today’s Jay-Zs in their eyes. When you think of black history, American entertainers and famous figures of today could be considered the black history of this generation’s tomorrow. If this is a collage about social change and politics, then maybe Bey and Jay should have a seat. But if we want to talk about African Americans who have made significant contributions to our culture, yes, they are in the same category as our POTUS and FLOTUS. They’ve built brands and businesses and broken records. Barack, Beyoncé and Booker T. Washington have more in common than you think: they’ve all made history and opened many a door.
Just hear me out. I definitely agree our generation is plagued by a frightening disconnect between sacrifices of yesterday’s leaders that are responsible for so many of the opportunities we often take for granted today. One of the reasons why I fell in love with President Obama’s message and mission is because I feel like he truly understands what so many of us fail to grasp: In order to make our youth understand and value the opportunities that have been presented to them, we have to meet them where they are at. How can we expect young people to truly appreciate their history and culture if we fail to acknowledge the idols who have made history during their lifetimes? President Obama got it right when he invited Jay-Z to do a voice over for his campaign ads. One of the reasons why his election was so greatly affected by the high number of young voters was because he understood that they would never hear his message for change if they felt he was someone who couldn’t understand their voice as well.
Let’s be honest, when black history month rolled around, for 28 days throughout our childhoods we saw the same names in rotation: Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Rosa Parks and George Washington Carver, aka, “The Peanut Guy.” And while I could appreciate the paths they had paved, a part of me couldn’t truly identify with their struggle. “You have to know where you came from to know where you’re going,” sounded profound and all, but it’s only as an adult that I’m starting to realize how heavily our present successes rest on the shoulders of our history. When I was in ninth grade, all I cared about was making sure my Timberland sign showed on my boots. I cared more about what I was wearing to school as opposed to the fact the ancestors lost their lives so that I could even attend. When trying to relate anything to our young people from black history to birth control, you have to speak in their language and become familiar with what is important to them before you can attempt to teach what SHOULD be important to them. Acknowledging the contributions to our culture that today’s leaders in entertainment, politics and sports bring to the table doesn’t diminish or throw shade on the foundation that was built from those who fought and died for the belief in something better. We have to do more than throw on the Roots anthology and repeat, “People have died for the rights you take for granted.” We have to find a way to make it relate to the things they are going through today.
Closing that gap requires us to challenge our stagnant way of thinking that says that black history is something that began and ended and acknowledge it as an ongoing process that only continues to grow greater. And as with any culture, that means accepting it in its totality and not just picking the parts we’re personally proud of. What we shouldn’t do is make black history some outdated, pretentious social club that those born before 1960 have the monopoly on and act as though black history isn’t accepting any new members.
Before talking about how Sidney Poitier was the first African American to win an Academy award, try mentioning the fact that Tyler Perry is the first African American ever to launch his own major TV and film studio. Can we show the same love that we showed Jackie Joyner Kersee and Wilma Rudolph, to Serena Williams and Gabby Douglas? Maybe, just maybe, our kids will talk about Alicia Keys like we once talked about Aretha Franklin. And before catching feelings over the bible Barack Obama is using, take a few minutes to consider the fact that we have lived to see our first black president. There’s surely enough pride to go around. The fact that our leaders of yesterday have leaders of today to help bear the burden of uplifting our culture is not a threat but a credit to all of their sacrifices. And although we may not want our kids breaking out at the black history recital with a rendition of “Single Ladies,” it’s as much a part of our culture as “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Like it or not.
How do you define black history?
Toya Sharee is a community health educator and parenting education coordinator who has a passion for helping young women build their self-esteem and make well-informed choices about their sexual health. She also advocates for women’s reproductive rights and blogs about everything from beauty to love and relationships. Follow her on Twitter @TheTrueTSharee or visit her blog Bullets and Blessings .
In the mid-1800’s, it wasn’t easy to be an African-American woman with professional aspirations. But Sarah Jane Woodson Early wasn’t just a hard-working and multi-tasking professional woman—she was a woman ahead of her time. Educating was her life’s passion and in 1858, she became the first African American female college professor. Throughout her life she taught, gave lectures and also worked as an author, black nationalist, and temperance advocate.
Born a free woman in Chillicothe, OH, on Nov. 15, 1825, Early’s upbringing served as the basis for her activist and academic spirit. Her parents, Thomas and Jemima Woodson, founded the first black Methodist church of west of the Alleghenies. They also founded Berlin Crossroads, a separate black farming community. Although there was never any supporting historical evidence, her father believed he was the oldest son of Sally Hemings and President Thomas Jefferson.
Early graduated from Oberlin College in Ohio at a time when her options for education were limited between two colleges. She was also one of the first black women to earn a college degree. Even in college she had a zeal for teaching. She taught at several schools founded by the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church while in school. In 1858, she was hired at Wilberforce College, an AME founded church and the first college to be African-American owned and operated. Her brother, Lewis Woodson, was one of the original 24 founding trustees.
During the Civil War, Wilberforce closed for nearly a year and welcomed her back on its faculty as an English and Latin professor when it reopened its doors. After her years of teaching at Wilberforce, she left to teach at an African American girls’ school in North Carolina in 1868. This year was not only a year for academic change for Early, but also a year of personal change as she also married Minister Jordan Winston Early. Her husband, one of the pioneers of African Methodism in the West and South, served as one of the subjects of her books with her biographic account of his rise from slavery. The couple moved to Tennessee where Early found a job as a teacher in her new environment. For the next twenty years of her career, Early taught wherever her husband preached. Her resume included teaching in several community schools, serving as the principle in four cities and giving over 100 lectures in five states. In addition, she was the national superintendent of the black division of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union.
Early’s legacy is not a singular story of academic success; but an example to all black women with dreams of teaching. She is a black woman who didn’t stop with achieving her own education, instead she always strove to educate others no matter where she lived. Early broke the barriers for women academics in a time when there wasn’t much expected from women, much less a black woman. These days as the number of black women enrolled in college grows and black women professionals increase in the work-field, she serves as a reminder that whatever barriers black women may face, they can and will overcome them.
In honor of Black History Month and our special month-long look at “Pioneers In The Game,” MN Business will be publishing a series of features this month looking at historic Black Women Pioneers. This is the first in that series.
We’re highlighting Pioneers in the Game every day here on Madame Noire. Click here to meet all of our salutes.
From Black Voices
Victoria Jackson, former “Saturday Night Live” comedian turned ultra-conservative gadfly, delivered a rant on Thursday in which she targeted “Black History Month” and suggested that whites ought to create their own annual celebration.
“Now, that the white race is becoming a minority in America, perhaps we need to make … say, January, White History month,” she wrote on her website, according to the political blog Wonkette.
Read at BlackVoices.com.
There are special exhibits across the country to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. And the U.S. Postal Service is honoring the milestone. The USPS recently announced a limited-edition stamp honoring the historic event.
On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which proclaimed all those enslaved in Confederate territory to be forever free. The Emancipation Proclamation Forever Stamp is on sale at post offices nationwide, can be purchased online, and by phone at 800-Stamp24.
The new stamp is the first in a series of three Civil Rights stamps to be released in 2013. The remaining stamps in the series will pay tribute to Rosa Parks and the March on Washington. The Emancipation Proclamation Forever Stamp was designed by renowned graphic designer and former Rolling Stone magazine senior art director Gail Anderson, and art director Antonio Alcalá. A phrase taken from the historic document–“Henceforward Shall Be Free” — is featured on the stamp.
“Stamps often tap into our culture and help us remember the events and people who have had an impact on American history,” said Deputy Postmaster General Ronald A. Stroman in a press release. “The Emancipation Proclamation was a powerful symbol of President Lincoln’s determination to end the war, to end slavery, and to reconstruct the economy of the country without slave labor.”
This is not the first time that the USPS has paid homage to civil right events with special stamps. According to the release, in 2009, the organization released stamps featuring 12 civil rights pioneers including Mary Church Terrell and Mary White Ovington. And every year the USPS commemorates notable leaders and cultural milestones through other stamp collections, including the Black Heritage series and the American Treasures series.
Even the Emancipation Proclamation has been recognized by the USPS before. On August 16, 1963, the Postal Service issued a stamp commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. The stamp, states the release, was designed by George Olden, who was the first African American to design a U.S. postage stamp.
Will you collect the Emancipation Proclamation Forever Stamp?
Johnson Publishing, the company behind Ebony and Jet magazines, is making 2,000 photos in its extensive archive available to purchase. The publishing company has one million photos in its arsenal.
According to ChicagoBusiness.com, chairman Linda Johnson Rice cherry-picked the for sale photos. The images have been collected over the course of 70 years and include Diana Ross, Muhammed Ali, Sammy Davis Jr, and more.
Images start as low at $34.99 and they’re offering a 15 percent discount through this Thursday. Covers and other snapshots are also available. Could make a nice holiday gift, no?
ChicagoBusiness.com reports that Johnson Publishing is seeking new revenue streams to add to its magazines and Fashion Fair cosmetics.
The Geechee people, also known as the Gullahs, have lived on an island off the coast of Georgia* since way back. And almost as long as they’ve been around, there has been an effort to push them from their land.
Descended from slaves, the Geechees are faced with losing their home on Sapelo Island because of an increase in taxes that’s making it prohibitive for them to stay. According to The New York Times, there is an unyielding desire to turn land in and around this area into waterfront homes and other tourist attractions. As a result, there’s constant pressure for the Geechees to leave. Now, the Geechees are faced with property taxes that, in one example, raises the bill more than 500 percent.
The relationship between the Geechees and local authorities is fraught with tension. As recently as July, there were charges of racial discrimination. Local government officials, of course, say they’re doing their best to preserve the Geechee culture and their homes. But the tax rates they had been paying were abnormally low and there’s a history of corruption. So there’s an effort to bring all of the financial matters up to date.
There have been government efforts — cultural and historic organizations — designed to preserve the Geechee culture on the island (the Geechees have lived across the Southeast for 200 years). But it’s the money that could force them to go.
There are only a few dozen Geechees living on Sapelo Island. They are a link to the past; not just an African-American past, but the history of this country. Food, language, and slave culture have been passed down through this small group of people. It’s criminal that the government isn’t doing more to make sure they not just survive, but thrive on this land and all that they occupy.
There is an official site for the Gullah/Geechee Corridor, which spans from Wilmington, NC to Jacksonville, FL. The site provides an official history, a statement from Congressman James E. Clyburn (D-SC) and other information. It might not save the Geechees of Sapelo Island, but perhaps if more people knew about the Gullahs and their plight, it would help the cause.
*I originally wrote that Sapelo Island was off the coast of South Carolina, but a helpful commenter corrected me. Thanks!
By Makula Dunbar
Every February communities around the country — and some parts of the world — take time out to celebrate Black History Month. For some, the month is of great importance and instead of a recognition period, Black History Month is the moment when everyone else shows their appreciation. For Jacqueline Galloway-Blake, Founder of Brown Sugar & Spice Books; Leon Morton, creator of Black History Arcade and Khalid El-Hakim, Founder of the Black History 101 Mobile Museum — Black History is something they’re about all year-round.
For more than 20 years, the Black History 101 Mobile Museum and education consulting retail company Brown Sugar & Spice Books have been incorporating Black History into their day-to-day businesses. However, it was just over a year ago that programmer Leon Morton launched his Black History themed app.
Black History Arcade
“Black History Arcade was made to promote Black history and culture through games, trivia and entertainment applications,” said Morton. “I released it on Facebook in September of 2010. The App itself consists of eight applications.”
As a college student who attended school with his mother, Morton’s interest in Black history grew as his mom shared information from the several Black history courses she was enrolled in.
“She took a lot of Black History courses and we attended a lot of Black history events and seminars together,” Morton said. In 2004, he put his computer engineering degree to use designing puzzles that showcased African art.
“I’ve been developing games and websites for years. I kind of look at it like an artist who paints Black history or a rapper who makes music about Black history,” Morton added. “My thing is on the programming side. This is my medium. This is my way of showing Black history.”
Through Black History Arcade, players can take quizzes and participate in brick breaker, puzzle, matching and memory games that highlight Black history figures, events, African symbols, countries and flags.
In Black History Month’s final week, the Smithsonian will break ground on a new branch of history that will immortalize the history of struggle and achievement of the country’s black community. Along with the recent addition of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, this $500 million National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) will open in the fall of 2015 and bring even more diversity to the historical sites that draw millions of visitors to Washington DC each year.
Black Voice News reports that the NMAAHC is the Smithsonian’s 19th museum and the only national museum dedicated to telling the story of African American culture and history. Slated to sit next to the Washington Monument, it will also mark another accomplishment as the first green building on the National Mall.
The NMAAHC collection will combine almost 10,000 items from art, photographs and manuscripts all drawn from the slave trade to the civil rights era to present day. According to Bloomberg, a sales slip relegating a young woman to slavery is among the items on display. Another artifact that will also be on display is a French Croix de Guerre received by a World War I “Harlem Hellfighter,” who could only fight for the US as a French soldier.
On its south side, the museum will boast a veranda, reminiscent of the porch so many southern blacks sat on to discuss life and fellowship with family and friends. The sloping columns of bronze metalwork represents motifs that originate from Youba motifs. Chief designer David Adjaye relays that angled windows will reveal the slave-owning Thomas Jefferson’s pavilion nearby, while another window faces the Lincoln Memorial where Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. famously gave his “I Had a Dream” speech.
On Wednesday, President Barack Obama will give remarks at the NMAAHC’s groundbreaking ceremony. While the event is invitation only, it will be available on webcast at: http://nmaahc.si.edu/Events/Groundbreaking.