Author Topic: History of black history month  (Read 3050 times)

Offline Hypestyle

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History of black history month
« on: February 03, 2011, 12:07:20 pm »
From the Library of Congress:

http://www.loc.gov/law/help/commemorative-observations/african-american.php

...While I concur that black history should, pragmatically, be uplifted by folks in their families throughout the year and not just in February, the pushback in recent years to the month of February as black history month strikes me as a little misdirected--

Looking at the history of the observation, it was created by Dr. Carter G. Woodson back in 1926 as Negro History Week. Dr. Woodson chose the second week in February out of deference to Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, whom Dr. Woodson felt played important roles in black american history.. So the reaction that February (the shortest month) was arbitrarily chosen at some point by Caucasians in academia/politics is false.

Dr. Carter's organization, the Associatiation for the Study of African American Life and History decided to expand the scope of Negro History Week in 1976 to the entire month of February. The previous year Gerald Ford made the first Presidential acknowledgement of Black History Week in 1975.

It was not until 1986 when Congress officially passed legislation acknowledged the 60th anniversary date of Black History Month and continued recognition of February as National black History Month. For whatever it's worth, I'm sure this involved pressure from black congresspersons at the time and other activists.

....Now, if folks want "the culture" to be changed at the individual level, then they have to be more proactive within their families, purchasing and/or renting books and videos of black culture, historical figures and events of importance; visiting black-themed museums more than once a year; seeking out black-culture-themed live entertainment (including theater and not just contemporary music)..

As far as getting Black History Month out of February and into a 'longer' month-- well, first acknowledge that it wasn't at the whim of the John Birch society or Wal-Mart that February was chosen to begin with.. From there, it's going to take grassroots pressure on pushing black-culture organizations to have some kind of formal "revisitation" of how black history is formally acknowledged by our internal institutions, regardless of how Hallmark and assorted public school districts will respond..

June would be my pick.. June is already black music month, as well as having the Juneteenth (June 19th) celebration, plus, of course, it has 30 days compared to February's 28.. of course, skeptics would point out that seven months have 31 days, and most American kids end their school year in mid-june so I can see the nitpicking already..

Amending the congressional act will take-- another congressional act, but more important would be the family/community events that would be taking place..

 
Be Kind to Someone Today.

Offline Magic Wand

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Re: History of black history month
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2011, 07:54:45 am »
Or....we can celebrate Black Currency every day at 4BlackYouth.com
"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." --Aristotle, Greek philosopher

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Offline Magic Wand

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Re: History of black history month
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2011, 08:01:28 am »
Looking at the history of the observation, it was created by Dr. Carter G. Woodson back in 1926 as Negro History Week. Dr. Woodson chose the second week in February out of deference to Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, whom Dr. Woodson felt played important roles in black american history.. So the reaction that February (the shortest month) was arbitrarily chosen at some point by Caucasians in academia/politics is false.

Dr. Carter's organization, the Associatiation for the Study of African American Life and History decided to expand the scope of Negro History Week in 1976 to the entire month of February. The previous year Gerald Ford made the first Presidential acknowledgement of Black History Week in 1975.

It was not until 1986 when Congress officially passed legislation acknowledged the 60th anniversary date of Black History Month and continued recognition of February as National black History Month. For whatever it's worth, I'm sure this involved pressure from black congresspersons at the time and other activists.

Thanx for this timely entry. 
I was on the Metro in DC a couple of days ago, when an elderly dude came on-board ranting that white people stole us from our native country and then destroyed it.  When all the white folks finally fled the train, he started in on the young Black kids.......shouting, "Y'all need t' learn y'all's histery!  We din't even have Black Histery til 1991!"
"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." --Aristotle, Greek philosopher

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Offline Magic Wand

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Re: History of black history month
« Reply #3 on: February 18, 2011, 06:39:08 am »
Seeds of Thought
"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." --Aristotle, Greek philosopher

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Offline Reginald Hudlin

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Re: History of black history month
« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2011, 07:30:17 am »
Seeds of Thought

Interesting...he's taking scenes from a fictional TV show and making broad comments about...black people?  How the show was written?  I didn't watch it all...

Offline Magic Wand

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Re: History of black history month
« Reply #5 on: February 18, 2011, 08:03:25 am »
Seeds of Thought

Interesting...he's taking scenes from a fictional TV show and making broad comments about...black people?  How the show was written?  I didn't watch it all...


The show was just written as very basic comedy and didn't appear to be making any statement at the time.  Looking back on it, it looks like we were laughing at stereotypes and reinforcing our own indifference to our heritage as powerful and multicultural people
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Offline Battle

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Re: History of black history month
« Reply #6 on: June 17, 2021, 11:29:22 am »
Thursday, 17th June   Twenty One
Pulitzer Prize-Winning Historian Annette Gordon-Reed Explores the Origin of an American Holiday
by Annette Gordon-Reed





The following is excerpted from On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reed.

To my surprise some years back, I began to hear people outside of my home state, Texas, talk about, and actually celebrate the holiday “Juneteenth.”



June 19, 1865, shortened to “Juneteenth,” was the day that enslaved African Americans in Texas were told that slavery had ended, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed, and just over two months after confederate General robert e. lee had surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox.

Despite the formal surrender, the confederate army had continued to fight on in Texas until mid-May.
 
It was only after they finally surrendered that Major General Gordon Granger, while at his headquarters in Galveston, prepared General Order Number 3, announcing the end of legalized slavery in the state.

The truth is, I confess here, that I was initially annoyed, at least mildly so, when I first heard that others outside of Texas claimed the holiday.

But why?

After all, it was a positive turn in history, evidence that our country was leaving behind, or attempting to, a barbarous institution that had blighted the lives of millions.

Such a thing should be celebrated far and wide.

My twinge of possessiveness grew out of the habit of seeing my home state, and the people who reside there, as special.

The things that happened there couldn’t have happened in other places.

Non-Texans could never really understand what the events that took place in Texas actually meant.

I am certain that I’m not alone in this attitude.

From my earliest days, it was drummed into me and, I believe, other young people growing up in Texas at that time, that we inhabited a unique place that we were always supposed to claim, and of which we were always supposed to be proud.

I’ve noticed over the years, that it is hard to meet a person from Texas who does not, at some point in the conversation, let you know, either with a drawl or without, that he or she is from the state.

My proprietary attitude about Juneteenth quickly disappeared. Rather than keeping the holiday to ourselves, Texans have been in the forefront of trying to make Juneteenth a national holiday.

As I think of it, it’s really a very Texas move to say that something that happened in our state was of enough consequence to the entire nation that it should be celebrated nationwide.

It has been offered, as part of the justification, that the end of slavery in Texas was the end of the institution period.

That’s not quite true. Granger’s order did not end slavery in the country.

That did not happen officially until December 1865, when the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified by the necessary number of states.

But it is significant that Texas was the site of the tail end of the Confederate war effort.

As the war had been fought to preserve slavery, celebrating Juneteenth throughout the land is a fitting way to mark the end of that effort.

It also is fitting to think of Texas in relation to the nation for another reason.

The state has been described as a bellwether for what the United States will become; the term “Texification” has come into use to describe a process that is, supposedly, of recent origin.

The history of Juneteenth, which includes the many years before the events in Galveston and afterward, shows that Texas, more than any state in the Union, has always embodied nearly every major aspect of the story of the United States of America.

That fact has been obscured by broad caricatures of the state and its people, caricatures that Texans themselves helped to create and helped make the state seem exotic, almost foreign to the rest of the Union.

The essays in [On Juneteenth] do not strive to present a chronological narrative of the place where Juneteenth was born.

They are, instead, designed to provide a context for an event that has become increasingly important in the life of the American nation.

It’s a look at history through the medium of personal memoir, a Texan’s view of the long road to Juneteenth, the events surrounding the date itself, what happened afterward, and how all of this shaped life in Texas, my family’s life, and my own.

My Texas roots go deep—on my mother’s side back to the 1820s, on my father’s side at least to the 1860s.

Significantly, my wide-ranging approach to Juneteenth reveals that behind all the broad stereotypes about Texas is a story of Indians, settler colonialists, Hispanic culture in North America, slavery, race, and immigration.

It is the American story, told from this most American place.























Offline Battle

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Re: History of black history month
« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2021, 02:28:28 pm »
Thursday, 17th June  Twenty One
Biden Signs Bill Making Juneteenth a Federal Holiday
by Annie Karni and Luke Broadwater
































« Last Edit: June 17, 2021, 03:06:38 pm by Battle »

Offline Battle

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Re: History of black history month
« Reply #8 on: June 17, 2021, 06:34:49 pm »
Thursday, 17th June  Twenty One
One Woman's Decades Long Fight To Make Juneteenth A U.S. Holiday
by Vanessa Romo







Opal Lee is 94, and she's doing a holy dance.

It's a dance she said she and her ancestors have been waiting 155 years, 11 months and 28 days to do.

Ever since Major General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, to spread the news of the Emancipation Proclamation outlawing slavery in Confederate states.

President Abraham Lincoln had signed it more than two years earlier.

"And now we can all finally celebrate. The whole country together," Lee told NPR minutes after a landslide House vote on Wednesday approving legislation establishing the day, now known as Juneteenth, as a federal holiday to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States.

President Biden signed the bill on Thursday, and Lee was standing beside him during the ceremony.

In a warm and raspy voice, Lee recalls her decades of work in the Juneteenth movement after joining the Tarrant County Black Historical and Genealogical Society, which oversaw local Juneteenth celebrations.

But she said that after more than 40 years as a community activist, she "really doubled down in 2016" by "going bigger."

At the age of 89, Lee decided her new life mission was much like that of Granger:

"I knew I just had to spread the word about Juneteenth to everybody."

The best way to do that, she figured, was to help get Juneteenth accepted as a national holiday.

She decided to start with a walking campaign in cities along a route from her home in Fort Worth, Texas, to Washington, D.C.

It wasn't a straight line.

Over several weeks, Lee arrived in cities where she'd been invited to speak and walked 2½ miles to symbolize the 2½ years that it took for enslaved people in Texas to learn they were free.

"I was thinking that surely, somebody would see a little old lady in tennis shoes trying to get to Congress and notice," she said, laughing at the memory.

Since then, Lee has become known as the Grandmother of Juneteenth.

Her annual walks culminated in a trip to the Capitol in September, carrying a petition signed by 1½ million Americans urging Congress to pass legislation for a federal holiday.

"It wasn't a success," she said about the trip.

Undeterred, she returned again in February as a new version of the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act was reintroduced.

Technically, there is no such thing as a national holiday, because neither the president nor Congress has ever asserted power to declare a holiday that binds all 50 states, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Instead, the two branches establish permanent federal holidays that only legally apply to federal employees across the nation and in the District of Columbia. Meanwhile, states independently establish their own holidays or commemoration days.

Until Juneteenth, there have been 10 federal holidays for the country at large.

Before the passage of the Juneteenth legislation by the House and Senate this week, there have only been four new holidays added to the national calendar in the past 100 years.

The last one was in 1983 when President Ronald Reagan signed a bill adding Martin Luther King Jr. Day to celebrate King's contribution to the civil rights movement.

It was a 15-year journey that began in 1968, four days after King was assassinated, and it wasn't observed until 1986.

Even then, it took nearly two more decades for all individual states also to recognize the holiday.

Among the most avid opponents was Arizona, which didn't come around until 1995 — a couple of years after the NFL moved a Super Bowl game to California in protest.

It was a move that cost the state an estimated $500 million in revenue.

South Carolina also resisted national pressure to acknowledge the day until 2000, when it finally agreed to give state employees a paid holiday off. 

To get around the controversy, he eventually signed a bill declaring Martin Luther King Jr. Day a holiday.

As for Juneteenth, there has been a surge in recognition in recent years by local and state governments — 47 states acknowledge it in some way, with some, including Texas, declaring it a paid holiday.

One challenge elected officials face in declaring a new federal holiday is the cost.

That was true for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and it became a major roadblock in the case of Juneteenth.

According to a 2014 estimate by the White House budget office, it costs $660 million to cover a day of payroll and holiday premium pay.

That was the stumbling block for Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who voted against the Juneteenth legislation in 2020 when it was first introduced.

While he favored celebrating the end of chattel slavery — the practice of enslaving and owning people and their offspring as property, to be bought, sold and forced to work without wages — he said he could not get behind paying for another day off for federal workers.

At the time, he suggested dropping one of the 10 federal holidays.

This year, Johnson's concern was overridden by the Senate's overwhelming support.

"While it still seems strange that having taxpayers provide federal employees paid time off is now required to celebrate the end of slavery, it is clear that there is no appetite in Congress to further discuss the matter. Therefore, I do not intend to object," he said in a statement.

Still, several House republicans raised the same issue Wednesday, including Representative James Comer, who voted in favor of the bill.

He complained that the Congressional Budget Office hadn't been given time to consider the impact of "granting the entire federal workforce another day off work."

A day before the House vote, Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, the Democrat from Houston and one of many who sponsored the act, dismissed the problem of the price tag and called it a distraction.

"I don't think that we will lose our shirt by adding only one other holiday that commemorates the life, the legacy, and the history African Americans," Jackson Lee told NPR.

"Am I to believe that it is too costly to have one other holiday that commemorates our history?" she added.

During the vote, Jackson Lee held up graphic photos of the brutality and legacy of slavery.

One showed the welted scars on the back of a man who'd been savagely whipped.

Another showed the gruesome hanging of two Black men during the Jim Crow era.

The lifeless bodies stood at the center of the frame, flanked by dozens of smiling white men looking directly at the camera.

On the phone, Jackson Lee remarked on the inherent contradictions of celebrating Juneteenth and the sadness in knowing that freed people remained enslaved after they should have been released from bondage.

"Two years and they did not know," she said.

"How many lives were lost? What kind of brutality did they face in that period of time?"

"Yet," she concluded, it is a profoundly joyous day "because it allows little children in schools to be taught the wonderment of America and that America can overcome its ills to be able to rise to its better days."

Despite the "history of its ills," Jackson Lee said,

"What better concept to rally around in the idea of freedom for us all?"

Professor emeritus Clayborne Carson, director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Papers Project at Stanford University, sees some similarities between the movements for a King holiday and the one commemorating Juneteenth.

But he said he's amazed by the momentum of the latest movement, which until a few years ago was not a part of the mainstream conversation.

He said that is likely due to King's waning support at the time of his death, even among Black leaders.

"Martin Luther King faced a lot of criticism for his stand on the Vietnam War, and his Poor People's Campaign was not meant to build his popularity," Carson said.

Though he's now a beloved figure around the world, Carson emphasized King "was very controversial during his time. ... He was at the low point."

A tremendous amount of work by King supporters went into defining his legacy as "a leader who presented a positive way forward for the nation," he said.

He credits Coretta Scott King, King's widow, with spearheading that effort and rallying Black leaders around the cause.

For Opal Lee, whose paternal great-grandmother was born into bondage in Louisiana, this Juneteenth "is like a dream."

"I knew I would see it happen in my lifetime," she said with a throaty laugh.

"But I have to keep my cool."

She's delighted the day will be an official holiday.

When she straps on her white sneakers for the annual 2½-mile walk, the nonagenarian said everyone "all over the country can cherish it as a day of unity."

The walk this year will be national, Lee said.

In addition to the Fort Worth event, organizers in Houston, Los Angeles, Atlanta, New York and other cities have set up walks to commemorate the day.

With every step, Lee said she'll be praying and giving thanks.

"I'll be thinking of my ancestors. I'll be thinking about my great-great-grandchildren and my grandchildren and my children."