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Friday, February 8, 2019

Notations From Our World (Weekly Edition): On this #BlackHistoryMonth

On this Black History Month, please enjoy this courtesy of Walden University on how African Americans have made such a profound impact in our lives:

Walden University
Message from the Dean
Student Affairs Dean 
Walter R. McCollum, PhD 
In this special edition newsletter, I want to take you on a journey from the Revolutionary War through today, and share some notable facts about African American history and culture.  As we celebrate African American history every day, we should be reminded that the African American culture is both part of and distinct from American culture.  Although slavery restricted the ability of Africans in America to practice their cultural traditions; practices, values and beliefs survived, and over time have incorporated elements of European American culture. There are facets of African American culture that were made more prominent as a result of slavery.  For example, drumming was used as a means of communication. The result is a dynamic, creative culture that continues to have a profound impact on mainstream American culture.

African American culture has had a transformative impact on myriad elements of mainstream American culture, to include, but not limited to, language, music, dance, religion, cuisine, agriculture, fashion, sports, fraternities and sororities, and politics. The first major public recognition of African American culture occurred during the Harlem Renaissance. In the 1920s and 1930s, African American music, literature, and art gained notoriety. Jazz, and blues and other musical forms entered American popular music. This was also a time of increased political involvement for African Americans.

Although African American history and culture has been limited in American History textbooks, the African American Museum Movement emerged during the 1950s and 1960s to preserve the heritage of the African American experience and to ensure its proper interpretation in American history. There are many museums devoted to African American history found in African American neighborhoods.  There are also institutions such as the African American Museum and Library at Oakland and the African American Museum in Cleveland created by African Americans to teach and investigate cultural history.  I have had an opportunity to visit both of them. But, my favorite of all time is the National Museum of African American History and Culture in the Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, which is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history and culture. 
As we shine the spotlight on African American history and culture in the month of February, let us celebrate it every day as a very unique and important part of American History! In this special edition newsletter, I have included some photos that I have captured from the National Museum of African American History and Culture showing how African Americans contributed immensely to American History!
The Revolutionary War
Rev War 
From the first shots of the American Revolutionary War until the victory at Yorktown, black men contributed significantly to securing independence for the United States from Great Britain. On March 5, 1770, Crispus Attucks, an escaped slave, was at the center of what became known as the Boston Massacre that fanned the flames of revolution. Once the rebellion began, Prince Estabrook, another African American, was one of the first to fall on Lexington Green in Massachusetts on April 19, 1775.
Slavery and Emancipation
During the 1780s and 1790s, the northern states gradually began to abolish slavery. State court decisions freed the slaves in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, but most of the northern states eliminated slavery gradually and by legislative enactment. For example, in 1799 New York stipulated that freedom would come to slaves once a woman reached twenty-five years and a man twenty-eight years of age.  It was relatively easy to abolish slavery in the northern states, where slaves comprised of only 5 percent of the population. But slaves accounted for 40 percent of the southern population. No southern state would emancipate the slaves for fear that abolition would damage the plantation economy and that free blacks would seek revenge for their long sufferings under slavery.  In 1863, President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation declaring that all persons within the Confederate states be freed from slavery. 
Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth 
Sojourner Truth was a feminist in the abolitionist movement.  She fled the last of a series of masters in 1827, and several years later she became an itinerant preacher.  One of her most memorable appearances was at the 1851 women’s rights conference in Akron, Ohio, where she forcefully attacked the hypocrisies of organized religion, and white privilege in her “Ain’t I a woman?” speech.
Frederick Douglass (1875-1895)
Frederick Douglass 
Frederick Douglass spoke eloquently before audiences in America and abroad, edited an antislavery journal from 1847 to 1860, helped organize two regiments of Massachusetts Negros during the Civil War, saw two of his sons serve in the Union army during the war, and kept pushing for true civil rights when the war was over
Hariet Tubman

Harriett Tubman 
Harriet Tubman was a fugitive slave who made 19 return trips to free as many as 300 slaves from bondage.  Her courage and shrewdness were widely known and all the more remarkable given the blackouts she suffered throughout her life as a result of being struck on the head with a two-pound weight by an overseer.  During the Civil War she served as a nurse, spy, and scout for groups of raiders penetrating Confederate lines.  In her later years she worked for black education and social betterment, women suffrage, and other causes.
Segregation and the Great Depression
Great Depression 
As segregation tightened and racial oppression escalated across the United States, W.E.B DuBois and other African American leaders channeled their activism by founding the Niagara Movement in 1905.  Later, they joined white reformers in 1909 to form the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).  Early in its fight for equality, the NAACP used the federal courts to challenge disenfranchisement and residential segregation.  Job opportunities were the primary focus of the National Urban League, which was established in 1910.  During the mid-thirties the NAACP launched a legal campaign against segregation focusing on inequalities in public education.  The problems of the Great Depression affected virtually every group of Americans. 
 Colored Section
No group was hit harder than African Americans.  By 1932, approximately half of the African Americans were out of work.  In some Northern cities, whites called for blacks to be fired from any jobs as long as there were whites out of work.  Racial violence became more common especially in the South.  Lynchings which had declined to eight in 1932, surged to 28 in 1933.  By 1936, the majority of black voters had abandoned their historic allegiance to the Republican Party and joined with labor unions, farmers, progressives, and ethnic minorities in assuring President Roosevelt’s landslide re-election. 
In the summer of 1955, a surge of anti-black violence included the kidnapping and brutal murder of fourteen-year-old Emmett Till, a crime that provoked widespread and assertive protests from black and white Americans. By December 1955, the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., began a protracted campaign of nonviolent civil disobedience to protest segregation that attracted national and international attention.  Hundreds of demonstrations erupted in cities and towns across the nation. National and international media coverage of the use of fire hoses and attack dogs against child protesters precipitated a crisis in the Kennedy administration, which it could not ignore. The bombings and riots in Birmingham, Alabama, on May 11, 1963, compelled Kennedy to call in federal troops.  On June 19, 1963, the president sent a comprehensive civil rights bill to Congress. The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28 roused public support for the bill.
Women and the Movement
Women Movement
Mary McLeod Bethune (1875-1955) was one of the many women who contributed to the Civil Rights Movement.  She became an educator who chose Daytona Beach, Florida, as the site for her own school.  In October of 1904 she had only $1.50; and with five students she opened the Daytona Industrial Institute for the Training of Negro girls.  The following year she had 100 students and three assistant teachers.  The school became an important community resource and evolved into what is now Bethune-Cookman College.
1968 and Beyond
Changing America 

The assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr on April 4, 1968 dashed the hopes of black Americans for progress toward racial equality.  White Americans respected him more than other black leaders, but his opposition to the Vietnam War infuriated many.  His continued insistence of nonviolent protests frustrated black activists.  But in 1968, he still led the struggle for civil rights.  African American churches provided spiritual and practical support for civil rights advocates.  The militant rhetoric of the Black Power Movement troubled many ministers, but others supported demands for fundamental and immediate change.  The Nation of Islam reinforced Black Power philosophy by insisting that black Americans have control over their own businesses, schools, and community organizations.  The Nation criticized the Civil Rights Movement for its integrationist goals.
Black Arts Movement
 Arts Movement
The Black Arts Movement was the name given to a group of politically motivated black poets, artists, dramatists, musicians, and writers who emerged in the wake of the Black Power Movement. The poet Imamu Amiri Baraka is widely considered to be the father of the Black Arts Movement, which began in 1965 and ended in 1975.  Playwrights and producers in the Black Arts Movement used theater to empower black audiences.  Hundreds of organizations emerged in just a few years.
The 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s
The decade of the 1970s was one of political firsts and cultural rebirth.  It began with the activist fervor of the antiwar and minority rights movements.  Affirmative Action bolstered enrollment at universities, while federal and city hiring provided black families with better job options.  The 1980s were years of advancement.  Women and men pursued advanced degrees and gained footing in professional sectors.  The 1990s saw a growing influx of Caribbean and African American immigrants.  Black America grew more diverse culturally but still faced racial discrimination.  In 2005, Hurricane Katrina and subsequent flooding devastated New Orleans and the surrounding areas.  Beginning in 2008, a crippling recession undercut the security of poor and middle-class families nationwide.  Home foreclosures hit African Americans hard.  The decade closed with the election of the nation’s first African American president, President Barack Obama.
Black GreeK Letter Organizations
The National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC), established in 1930 governs the activities of the major black Greek-letter organizations.  The NPHC’s members include the eight oldest African American fraternities and sororities, founded between 1906 and 1922.  The ninth is Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, founded in 1963. 
For over a century, Black fraternities and sororities have encouraged achievement among their members while also promoting values of service and uplift.  As a support system and a source of cultural pride, these organizations have served students attending traditionally white as well as Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).  Members have expanded their impact beyond the campus through community outreach, activism, and leadership. 
Leveling the Playing Field in Sports
Student Affairs Dean 
At the collegiate level, African American sporting traditions strengthened at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).  Although football was the first of the major team sports to re-integrate, it has lagged far behind others in promoting African Americans into coaching.  Even as more mainstream sports such as baseball, football, and basketball began to accept black competitors, golf and tennis remained closed to most African Americans.  Because of these sports’ close association with cultural elites, African American tennis players and golfers had to cross boundaries that were not present in other sports.  Boxing was one of the most popular sports in the 1800s, and African Americans turned to the science of boxing to challenge their enslavement and the discrimination of the Jim Crow era.  Since then, African American fighters, promoters, trainers, and managers have used boxing to demonstrate courage, strategic thinking and business acumen.  The integration of Major League Baseball is the most significant event in the history of African American sports.  In the early 1900s, African Americans used men’s and women’s basketball to help instill middle-class values and promote good health as part of the broader campaign for racial uplift.  Since then, basketball has become more closely identified with African American culture than any other mainstream sport.
The Roots of African American Music
Student Affairs Dean 
The story of African American music begins in Africa. Enslaved Africans from across the continent brought with them a wide array of cultural traditions and performance practices. These musical traditions summoned the values, languages, and experiences of their creators. And the convergence of these traditions in America brought forth a new form of musical expression, amid the drastic changes of surroundings and circumstances. By preserving their musical traditions, styles, and techniques, enslaved Africans created the template of unique sounds that redefined the basis of American music.

Style, Image and Identity
Madame CJ Walker 
Madame C.J. Walker (1867-1919) was a successful hair and cosmetics entrepreneur and, by the early twentieth century, the richest self-made woman in America.  She took great pride in the profitable employment and alternative to domestic labor that her company afforded many thousands of black women who worked as commissioned agents. African American styles were woven in black cultural values, and celebrated through diverse African American images.

Culture and Cuisine
The intersection of culture and cuisine consists of the food people eat, how it’s grown and prepared, and its part in their lives.  Africans brought with them planting and cooking techniques and memories of recipes.  Enslaved and free African Americans cooked in the kitchens of white families, restaurants, and even the White House.  Over the last century, many found jobs in food service, in places as varied as boarding houses, hotels, cattle ranches, and Pullman cars.  Today, a new generation of black chefs and restaurant owners continues to contribute to the evolution of American cuisine.

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