Tag Archives: African American History Month 2017

Presidential gaffe inspires a nation to know Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who has done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I notice……Donald J. Trump

To be sure Frederick Douglass is better known now to most Americans, in light of journalists, teachers and the general public’s reaction to the President’s display of ignorance of the history of the nation he purports to “rule.”   And yet we all have more to learn.

Fortunately, resources  about this great American abound. Just last week my email included a link to this lovely video narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass produced by the National Archives. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxZClqEnRwQ

This led me to a corollary video that treats of Douglass as the “conscience of the abolitionist movement: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fj-gz3u-1jM

And to this, one of many YouTube adaptations of picture books that tells the story of Frederick Douglass: — https://youtu.be/oN-QqKsgyL4

As well as to this impassioned speech, delivered by Douglass on July 4, 1852. http://www.historyplace.com/speeches/douglass.htm

And to the Frederick Douglass Honor Society, a venture created by residents of his birthplace in Talbot County, Maryland – who knew! http://www.frederickdouglasshonorsociety.org/douglass-history.html

Needless to say, the royal gaffe has fostered a flood of responses in the press. It’s informative to read the words of contemporary writers whose response has been to celebrate Black History Month 2017 by expanding their readers’  appreciation of Frederick Douglass. The problem is that it’s a challenge to focus on the contributions of Douglass rather than on the unfortunate gaps in the leader’s understanding of American history. Here is just one of scores of tributes to this brilliant visionary. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/06/opinion/a-lesson-in-black-history.html

To really learn about the writings, the life and unique contributions of Frederick Douglass there is no better path than to dip into the resources of the Library of Congress which has made vast Douglass-related resources accessible online. Though the wealth of information – books, manuscripts, videos, guides and more — may seem overwhelming, all is meticulously organized – and you may certain that there is something in the collection to pique the interest of every learner, including candidates for public office, who harbor a passion to know the story of this democracy. https://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/douglass/

 

 

 

African American History Month -So much to read, view and learn

As we enter the second week of Black History Month many of us are overwhelmed by the issues, digital options and live events that are happening in communities, sponsored by a host of nonprofits, educational and advocacy groups. An abundance of riches, to be sure. Still, the opportunities to learn are so robust that we don’t know where to start! In an effort to focus, not limit, here are some thoughts:

Some time back I posted a listing of sources of Black History Month public events and activities. It’s not the most recent but it’s a starting point: https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/tag/black-history-month-2017-theme/

Still, events are not the only way to learn the history of African Americans and their contributions to Minnesota and the world. David V. Taylor produced a significant guide to historical resources published as the Minnesota Historical Guide in 1976.

Though dated, it offers a firm foundation to the topic. Dr. Taylor also produced a readily accessible e-book exploring resources on African Americans in Minnesota – it’s available commercially through most e-book vendors. http://www.mnhs.org/mnhspress/books/african-americans-minnesota-0

Sometimes biographies or autobiographies tell the story best. Though there are hundreds of African Americans who have shaped Minnesota history it took the intrepid staff of the St Paul Pioneer Press to suggest just a few historic icons in this 2016 article: http://www.twincities.com/2016/02/09/15-trailblazing-black-minnesotans-you-should-know-more-about/

In 2004 TPT produced North Star: Minnesota’s Black Pioneers, the story of twelve early Minnesotans who helped to shape the state. Happily, it’s still accessible online at http://video.tpt.org/video/2365018705/

Another approach is to focus on a specific era or issue. Again, to narrow the universe, the reader might want to start with a significant book written by William D. Green, former Superintendent of Minneapolis Schools, now on the Augsburg College faculty. Dr. Green’s informative and readable history. Degrees of Freedom, covers the story of civil rights in Minnesota 1865-1912. Get to know Dr. Green and his significant study by listening to these interviews with the author:

Last, but definitely not least, you might want to check out this recent publication from the University of Minnesota Press. https://www.upress.umn.edu/book-division/books/who-writes-for-black-children, edited by Katharine Capshaw and Anna Mae Duane. Here’s the publisher’s description of this unique resource:

Who Writes for Black Children? unlocks a rich archive of largely overlooked literature read by black children. From poetry written by a slave for a plantation school to joyful “death biographies” of African Americans in the antebellum North to literature penned by African American children themselves, this volume presents compelling new definitions of both African American literature and children’s literature.

So much to learn, so little time – especially when African American History Month gets short shrift by being celebrated during the shortest month of the year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remembering Langston Hughes, the “O.Henry of Harlem”

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed – 
Let it be that great strong land of love 
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme 
That any man be crushed by one above.   Langston Hughes

The words of hope were written by African American poet Langston Hughes, born this day in Joplin, Missouri, in 1902. His early years were difficult, many moves and the loss of parents and his caregiving grandmother. Hughes found solace in reading, reflecting later, “then it was that books began to happen to me, and I began to believe in nothing but books and the wonderful world of books – where if people suffered, they suffered in beautiful language not in monosyllables, as in Kansas.”

Restless and apparently weary of traveling the world, Hughes settled in Harlem where he was active in the Harlem Renaissance, a utopian environment for creative African Americans. His writing reflecting the world around him; when asked, Hughes shared this description of the topics he explored and reflected in his prolific writing. His words ring true for many in these times:

People up today and down tomorrow, working this week and fired the next, beaten and baffled, but determined not to be wholly beaten, buying furniture on the installment plan, filling the house with rooms to help pay the rent, hoping to get a new suit for Easter – and pawning that suit before the Fourth of July.

When Hughes died of cancer in 1967 the New York Times reported: “Mr. Hughes was sometimes characterized as the ‘O. Henry of Harlem.’ He was an extremely versatile and productive author who was particularly well known for his folksy humor.'”

There’s much to learn about this renowned poet, essayist, novelist, playwright and prolific letter writer:

  • Learn about the Langston Hughes Center at the University of Kansas, a repository of Hughes’ work and a center for research and teaching about his life and literary contributions. https://langstonhughes.ku.edu

UPDATE:  Read more Langston Hughes quotes here: http://mentalfloss.com/article/91742/20-inspiring-quotes-langston-hughes

 

 

Black History Month opens links to learning

I don’t want you to praise me…Some praise me because I am a colored girl, and I don’t want that kind of praise. I had rather you would point out my defects, for that will teach me something. — Edmonia Lewis

Though I have seen her sculptures in galleries and in print, it was not until today that I knew or appreciated the life and work of sculptor Edmonia Lewis. As I started my research/writing routine this morning I instinctively clicked on Google’s doodle du jour. I was delighted and, even more, captivated by a visual introduction to the elegant sculpture of this brilliant African American artist. https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/beta/exhibit/gQJi3NKm3VagLg?utm_campaign=bhm17_edmonia_lewis&utm_source=google&utm_medium=hppromo

Fortunately, my morning meeting was shifted – so my fingers and my mind heeded the lure to learn more….

Intrigued by the subject I googled again to learn about the life and work of a woman I had not known. The search led me to Michael Cavna’s piece in Washington Post where I learned more about Edmonia Lewis. I am awed, eager to learn more.   https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/comic-riffs/wp/2017/02/01/edmonia-lewis-google-doodle-salutes-pioneering-sculptor-to-kick-off-black-history-month/?utm_term=.65ed8b5ba9f4.

Another click led me to Time’s take on the Google doodle where I paused to track the process of how a doodle comes to be. http://time.com/4656108/google-doodle-sculptor-edmonia-lewis/

Happily, my search continued as I followed the links to learn about Akilah Johnson, the Eastern High School (Washington DC) student who actually designed the Google Black Lives Matter doodle. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/comic-riffs/wp/2016/03/21/d-c-student-wins-national-google-doodle-contest-with-art-that-invokes-black-lives-matter/?tid=a_inl&utm_term=.7548d215327f

At this point, the time has come to face the work routine of the day. Still, it has been a beautiful way to celebrate the first day of Black History Month 2017!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black History Month 2017 – Ideas, resources, events

Through first-class education, a generation marches down the long uncertain road of the future with confidence. Wynton Marsalis

“The crisis in Black education” is the theme – and challenge – of Black History Month 2017. Perhaps more than ever resources and learning opportunities abound. And, more than even, the challenge is well nigh overwhelming – for families, or schools, or this democracy. At the national, state and local levels concerned individuals and organizations are struggling to stem the tide of fake news, alternative facts, pull-back on funding for arts and humanities, and potential disruption of the very premise of public education.

Fortunately, the concern is nonpartisan and ubiquitous – and the resources expand by the hour!

Background:

Carter G. Woodson, (1875-1950) noted Black scholar and historian and son of former slaves, founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History in 1915, which was later renamed the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). He initiated Black History Week, February 12, 1926. For many years the second week of February (chosen to coincide with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln) was celebrated by Black people in the United States. In 1976, as part of the nation’s Bicentennial, it was expanded and became established as Black History Month, and is now celebrated throughout North America.

Here are just a few of the opportunities to learn, to gather, to focus on how best we can individually and as communities fully understand then meet the challenge. We won’t find answers in one short month – but we won’t seek answers until we come to grip with the questions. Not all but some, or even one, may speak to you as a parent, grandparent, student, teacher, voter, employer and citizen aware that “a mind is a terrible thing to waste.”

 

Resources:

http://www.africanamericanhistorymonth.gov – brief background on the history of the month, resources of national agencies – many of which are accessible online.

http://www.census.gov/newsroom/facts-for-features/2017/cb17-ff01.html – relevant statistics from the Census Bureau

http://www.naapidatnight.com – Help planning African American Parents Involvement Day/Night – many local schools will sponsor related events

http://www.educationworld.com/a_special/black_history.shtml – Lesson plans – various

Things to do:

http://www.si.edu/events/heritagemonth – Smithsonian resources

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/national-museum-of-african-american-history-and-culture – Resources of the National Museum of African American History and Culture 

Local calendars – a few of the many:

http://spokesman-recorder.com/2016/02/01/2016-black-history-month-calendar/

http://365twincities.com/black-history-month-events/

http://tcdailyplanet.tumblr.com/post/43174118372/black-history-month-calendar-of-events-through

Other local events – very incomplete list!

http://eastsidefreedomlibrary.org/event/open-mic-black-history/

http://eastsidefreedomlibrary.org/event/a-conversation-with-daniel-alexander-jones/

http://oshag.stkate.edu/all-events – Threads Dance Project–The Secrets of Slave Songs

http://www.mnhs.org/event/2193 – music by African American composers

http://www.sowahmensah.com/calendar/February 11, 2017 – Macalester Ensemble Black History Month Concert, Mairs Concert Hal, Janet Wallace Fine Arts Center, Macalester College, 8:00 pm – Free

http://www.exploreminnesota.com/events/31661/mill-city-string-quartet-presents-african-american-history-month

https://civilrightsminneapolis.wordpress.com/black-history-month/ – check the blogs

Good reads

http://www.hclib.org/about/news/2017/january/black-history-month -Includes a good list of related readings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black History Month – Creative Opportunities for Youth

The theme or this year’s Black History Month is “The Crisis in Black Education,” a theme that sparks a multitude of events, tools and approaches, some of which will show up in forthcoming posts.  Legal Services Corporation has issued a unique challenge to students that takes precedence because there are deadlines involved — and students occasionally need early notice to meet deadlines……

LSC challenges young learners, future leaders, to think creatively about the implications of “The Crisis in Black Education” on their own lives.  Creative folks that they are, they think in special ways about how students may want to express their thoughts — in writing ( essays/poetry/short story ), video, art/photography or music.

Attached here are the guidelines for each category.  Though there’s not a lot of time till entries are due creative energy may be pent up, ready to be shared through the arts.  LSC envisions artistic expression that moves young minds beyond news and data into free expression of ideas and feelings!

PARTNERING FOR THE FUTURE
2017 BLACK HISTORY MONTH CHALLENGE

The Crisis in Black Education – How Am I Impacted?

CHALLENGE GUIDELINES – ESSAY/POETRY/SHORT STORY

  •  Essay, short story, or poem must be written based on the theme The Crisis in Black Education – How Am I Impacted.
  •  Essay, short story, or poem submission must be solely the student’s original work.
  •  The essay, short story, or poem must clearly reflect the student’s point of view (e.g., an essay should not simply be a report of historical facts).
  •  Essay, short story, or poem must not include any offensive or derogatory language.
  •  Essay or short story must be a minimum of 1,000 words and not exceed three (3) typed pages (double spaced) on 8-1/2 X 11 in font size 12.
  •  Poem should not exceed two (2) typed pages (double spaced) on 8-1/2 X 11 in font size 12. No minimum number of words.
  •  Submission must include the student’s name and grade.
  •  Must be accompanied by a submission form.
  •  Submissions that do not adhere to all of the challenge guidelines will not be eligible.
  •  All entries must be submitted to the Legal Services Corporation by no later than 5:00 p.m. Friday, February 17, 2017 to qualify. No late submissions will be accepted.

Submit entry by email, fax, or postal mail.

o Email address: BHM@lsc.gov
o Fax: 202-337-6797, attention Black History Month Challenge
o Mailing address: LSC, Black History Month Challenge, 3333 K Street, NW, Washington, DC 20007

***

PARTNERING FOR THE FUTURE
2017 BLACK HISTORY MONTH CHALLENGE

The Crisis in Black Education – How Am I Impacted?

CHALLENGE GUIDELINES – MUSIC

  •  Music must be original and representative of the theme: The Crisis in Black Education – How Am I Impacted.
  •  Music submission must be solely student’s original work.
  •  Music submission must not include any offensive or derogatory language.
  •  Music submission should be a minimum of one (1) minute in length and not more than four (4) minutes.
  •  Music should be submitted as an MP file or as a video file and must include the typed lyrics.
  •  Music submissions must include an explanation or description of how the music relates to the theme. Explanation/description must be typed and double-spaced and include the student’s name and grade.
  •  Entry must be accompanied by a submission form.
  •  Submissions that do not adhere to all of the challenge guidelines will not be eligible.
  •  All entries must be submitted to the Legal Services Corporation by no later than 5:00 p.m. Friday, February 17, 2017 to qualify. No late submissions will be accepted.

Submit entry by email, fax, or postal mail.

o Email address: BHM@lsc.gov
o Fax: 202-337-6797, attention Black History Month Challenge
o Mailing address: LSC, Black History Month Challenge, 3333 K Street, NW, Washington, DC 20007

***

PARTNERING FOR THE FUTURE
2017 BLACK HISTORY MONTH CHALLENGE

The Crisis in Black Education – How Am I Impacted?

CHALLENGE GUIDELINES – VIDEO

  •  Video must be solely the student’s original work.
  •  Video must be no longer than 5 minutes.
  •  Video must not include any offensive or derogatory language or images.
  •  Videos may be submitted with a web link to an accessible video website such as YouTube or Vimeo.
  •  Video submissions must include an explanation or description of the work and its connection to the theme. Explanation/description should be typed on an 8 1/2” x 11” sheet of paper and include the student’s name and grade.
  •  Video must be accompanied by a submission form.
  •  Submissions that do not adhere to all of the challenge guidelines will not be eligible.
  •  All entries must be submitted to the Legal Services Corporation by no later than 5:00 p.m. Friday, February 17, 2017 to qualify. No late submissions will be accepted.

Submit entry by email, fax, or postal mail.

o Email address: BHM@lsc.gov
o Fax: 202-337-6797, attention Black History Month Challenge
o Mailing address: LSC, Black History Month Challenge, 3333 K Street, NW, Washington, DC 20007

Video must be representative of the theme: The Crisis in Black Education – How Am I Impacted.

* ** 

PARTNERING FOR THE FUTURE
2017 BLACK HISTORY MONTH CHALLENGE

The Crisis in Black Education – How Am I Impacted?

CHALLENGE GUIDELINES – ART/PHOTOGRAPHY

  •  Art/photography work must be solely the student’s original work.
  •  Art/photography may be drawings (color pencils, crayons, charcoal, markers, etc.), paintings (oil, acrylic, watercolor), paper collages, and/or photographs.
  •  Art/photography must be no larger than 24” x 36” and must be mounted on foam poster board or other rigid surface.
  •  Art/photography must not include any offensive or derogatory language or images.
  •  Artistic submissions must include an explanation or description of the work and its connection to the theme. Explanation/description should be typed on an 8 1/2” x 11” sheet of paper and include the student’s name and grade.
  •  Must be accompanied by a submission form.
  •  Submissions that do not adhere to all of the challenge guidelines will not be eligible.
  •  All entries must be submitted to the Legal Services Corporation by no later than 5:00 p.m. Friday, February 17, 2017 to qualify. No late submissions will be accepted.

Submit entry by email, fax, or postal mail.

o Email address: BHM@lsc.gov
o Fax: 202-337-6797, attention Black History Month Challenge
o Mailing address: LSC, Black History Month Challenge, 3333 K Street, NW, Washington, DC 20007