Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Celebrating Black History Month:


Black History Month is an observance of the plight and contributions African-Americans have made to the country, to the world.

Since 1976, it is observed annually in the United States and Canada in February. Black History Month was begun as Negro History Week by historian Carter G. Woodson in 1926. His goal was to educate the American people about African-American history, focusing on African Americans' cultural backgrounds and reputable achievements.

When Carter G. Woodson started Negro History Week, his purpose was for the history of African Americans to become considered a more significant part of American history as a whole. According to historian John Hope Franklin, Woodson “continued to express hope that Negro History Week would outlive its usefulness”.

The purpose of Black History Month is to promote awareness of African American history to the general public. It is arguable that despite the opinions of several critics, Black History Month has several advantages, and to an extent, Woodson’s hopes were realized.

Black History Month, in the words of Dorothy Edmonds Director of the General Board of Global Ministries.

Black History Month grew from a need for America to know and embrace the contributions that African Americans made to the formation and development of the country. Attending public schools I do not recall reading anything positive about African Americans in a history book. We were blessed with visionary teachers who went beyond the textbook and exposed us to information about black Americans who were making history.

We celebrate and honor Frederick Douglas, Crispus Attucks, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Dubois, Thurgood Marshall and great artists like Roland Hayes, Lena Horne, and Nat King Cole. It was that “pride” in who we were that propelled us forward and enabled us to believe that the future would be better.

Yes, there is still a need for Black History Month, as African American children need to know their history and the struggles of their ancestors. They need to feel proud of who they are. Our children need to know that much of who we are today is rooted and grounded in the Christian faith with God and the church as the anchor. They need to hear the Negro Spirituals and know their origin. They need to hear the poetry of Paul Lawrence Dunbar. They need to hear the blues sung by B.B. King and Bo Diddley. They need to read about Thurgood Marshall and the Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education lawsuit. They need to read about the Little Rock Nine. They need to know about Emmet Till, John Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, all lynched in Mississippi. They need to know about John Lewis (now Congressman) and his encounter on the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, Alabama while marching for voting rights for African Americans. Our children need to know about Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., Coretta Scott King, and their struggle to promote equality under the law.

African American history is a vital part of America’s history. America was built on the backs of slave labor of African Americans. The descendants of these slaves are now interwoven into the fabric of American culture. This could only happen through the divine intervention of the Holy Spirit working through Godly people such as John Wesley and countless other Christians who believed in, and worked for justice and equal opportunity for all.

Black History Month serves to remind all citizens of America that all people were created by God and deserve an equal opportunity for optimum development. For African American youth, Black History Month just might be that one ray of hope to put them on the road to greatness.

"Life Every Voice & Sing (Negro National Anthem)


Lift every voice and sing,
till earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.

Sing a song full of the faith that the
dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
let us march on till victory is won.

Stony the road we trod,
bitter the chastening rod,
felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
yet with a steady beat,
have not our weary feet
come to the place
for which our fathers died?

We have come over a way that with tears have been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
out from the gloomy past,
till now we stand at last
where the white gleam
of our bright star is cast.

God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
thou who hast brought us thus far on the way;
thou who hast by thy might led us into the light,
keep us forever in the path, we pray.

Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met thee;
lest our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee,
shadowed beneath thy hand,
may we forever stand,
true to our God,
true to our native land.

"Black History.... Celebrate it daily."

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