African American History Month

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    Creating Diversity Awareness in the Workplace February 2012 Newsletter

    African American History Month The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American society. As a Harvard-trained historian, Carter G. Woodson, like W. E. B. Du Bois before him, believed that truth could not be denied and that reason would prevail over prejudice. His hopes to raise awareness of African American's contributions to civilization was realized when he and the organization he founded, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), conceived and announced Negro History Week in 1925. The event was first celebrated during a week in February 1926 that encompassed the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The response was overwhelming: Black history clubs sprang up; teachers demanded materials to instruct their pupils; and progressive whites, not simply white scholars and philanthropists, stepped forward to endorse the effort.

    The Staff Management | SMX DPIC includes: Kenyatta Draper, Lupe Gonzalez, Katie Smith, Jenny Reints, Roxanne Ramoutar, Avery Yancey, Dayna Corona, Jessica Lewis, Justin Schwartz, Robert Cook, Maurice Proffit, Jennifer Fielding and Lloyd Weathers"

    By the time of Woodson's death in 1950, Negro History Week had become a central part of African American life and substantial progress had been made in bringing more Americans to appreciate the celebration. At midcentury, mayors of c i t ies nat ionwide issued proclamations noting Negro History Week. The celebration was expanded to a month in 1976, the nation's bicentennial. President Gerald R. Ford urged Americans to seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history. That year, fifty years after the first celebration, the association held the first African American History Month. By this time, the entire nation had come to recognize the importance of Black history in the drama of the American story. Since then each American president has issued African American History Month proclamations. And the associationnow the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH)continues to promote the study of Black history all year.

    An Open Letter from a Member of DPIC For as long as I can remember, the month of February has held such a strong significance in not only my individual life, but my family and social surroundings as well. Growing up in a suburb outside the city of Chicago, where the minority representation was significantly low, my mother made it a point to make sure that my brother and myself were able to always understand to make the absolute most out of Black History Month as it is being recognized on a national scale. My mother couldnt solely rely on the local school systems to make sure that our knowledge of Black History was intact, so she made it a point of this to be an everyday learning experience for my brother and myself, not limited to the 28 days within the bookends of the month of February. Why does Black History Month mean such a tremendous deal to me? Does it have to do with the fact that I am African American? Thats a good place to start; however, when you take the time to read and study the story of my ancestors, you are immediately engulfed in an enriching tale of prominence, disaster, triumph, perseverance, struggle and victory. This is indeed any classic anecdote that not even Hollywood could masterfully fit on the silver screen. But many stories of reality that played an instrumental role in shaping the foundation of America, to bring us where we are today, not just black, but of every and all ethnicities that make up this great land. Where would America be without the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade, which produced hundreds of thousands of free labor to build this land? Where would America be if President Lincoln eventually opted not to sign the Emancipation Proclamation which abolished slavery and made it unconstitutional? Where would America be if Crispus Attucks was not made a martyr for America to be the first to give his life in the American Revolution? Where would America be if it was not for the reconstruction period of the United States, where now hundreds of thousands of Black men and women were able to user their skills in a more constructive way of assisting with service for this country. Where would America be without the Harlem Renaissance? Without the Civil Rights Movement? Without the Invention of The Blood Bank, the Gas Mask, the Watch, the development of the first beauty product line, the carbon filament for the light bulb? Without the Tuskegee Airmen? Without the Underground Railroad? Without the NAACP or the United Negro College Fund? Without Hip Hop? I take it to a greater level when I ask, where would the WORLD be without any of the pre mentioned? I cannot answer that question, and I thank God everyday that I live in a world where I do not have to ask that question. This is the sole reason why it is important for African American History Month to not just be bottled as Black History, but its open to being WORLD HISTORY. I encourage each and every one that is reading this to really take time to go over this months DPIC newsletter as we celebrate African American History Month. Go over this newsletter and dont just limit yourself to enriching ones knowledge to what is on this file, but treat yourself to independent research and learn something youve never known before. And add that to your based learnings. For this is not just my history but its yours as well. And if you do not know your history, you are doomed to repeat it. And I thank God every day that my mother took that seriously. Enjoy.

    - Maurice D. Proffit DPIC (Community Team)


    The DuSable Museum (based in Chicago, IL) of African American History The DuSable Museum of African American History located in the historic Hyde Park area of Chicago located at 740 East 56th Place (57th Street and South Cottage Grove Avenue) in Washington Park unites art, history and culture. Founded in 1961 by teacher and art historian Dr. Margaret Burroughs and other leading Chicago citizens, the DuSable Museum is one of the few independent institutions of its kind in the United States. Developed to preserve and interpret the exper iences and achievements of people of African descent, it is dedicated to the collection, documentation, preservation and study of the history and culture of Africans and African Americans. The DuSable Museum is proud of its diverse holdings that number more than 15,000 pieces and include paintings, sculpture, print works and historical memorabilia. Special exhibitions, workshops and lectures are featured to highlight works by specific artists, historic events or collections on loan from individuals or institutions. Chicago is a city rich in African-American History and the Museum is named for Jean Baptiste Point DuSable, a Haitian of African and French descent, who in 1779 established the trading post and permanent settlement which would become known as Chicago. Permanent exhibits at the DuSable Museum include: A Slow Walk to Greatness: The Harold Washington Story, Paintings / Drawings / Sculptures: Masterpieces from the DuSable Museum Collection, Red, White, Blue & Black: A History of Blacks in the Armed Forces and Africa Speaks. Programming for families and children includes musical performances, film festivals, arts and crafts workshops, lectures, book signings, and special events. The DuSable Museum remains a community institution dedicated to serving the cultural and educational needs of our members. Our research, curatorial and educational divisions are committed to listening and responding to these needs, as well as the ever-increasing demands of art and cultural historians, and patrons nationwide.

    Barack Obama is the President of the United States of America As President, Barack Obama has dedicated himself to putting Americans back to work and restoring economic security to middle-class families. Hes been driven by the basic values that make our country great: America prospers when we're all in it together, when hard work pays off and responsibility is rewarded, and when everyonefrom Main Street to Wall Streetdoes their fair share and plays by the same rules. Barack Obama was elected President of the United States on November 4th, 2008, and sworn in on January 20th, 2009.

    Zora Neale HURSTON Renowned author who wrote stories, novels, anthropological folklore and an autobiography. Of Hurston's novels and more than 50 published short stories, plays, and essays, she is best known for her 1937 novel Their Eyes Were Watching God.

    Ella FITZGERALD "The First Lady of Song," Ella Fitzgerald was arguably the finest female jazz singer of all time having sold over 40 million albums and winning 13 Grammy awards.

    Martin Luther King, Jr., a great civil rights activist who was the leading force behind the withdrawal of segregation laws in the 1960's. King was the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to end racial segregation. Quincy Jones, African American music impresario who won over twenty Grammy awards, an Emmy award and several Oscar nominations. Carter Godwin Woodson was an educator and philosopher, mentor to African American scholars, and founder of the African American Historical Association. Sidney Poitier was the first Afro-American actor to win the Oscar (Lilies of the Fields, 1963). BB King, a famous guitarist is frequently called the undisputed King of the Blues. George Washington Carver discovered hundreds of new uses for crops such as the peanut. In addition, he developed methods of crop rotation that conserved nutrients in the soil. Lewis H. Latimer was the only African American member of Thomas A. Edison's team of scientists. He helped pave the way in the development of the electric light bulb. Henry ("Hank") Aaron broke Babe Ruth's home run record when he hit his 715th home run in 1974. He set a Major League record with 755 home runs in his career. Comedian Bill Cosby's 1984 sitcom, The Cosby Show, became the highest ranking sitcom for 5 years in a row. The program aired for eight years. Benjamin Banneker, scientist and mathematician is credited with helping to design the blueprints for Washington, D.C. Alex Haley, a Pulitzer Prize winning author who wrote "The Autobiography of Malcolm X" and "Roots: The Saga of an American Family.



    W. E. B. DuBois, an African American educator, author, historian, sociologist, philosopher, poet, and leader. Besides being one of the founders of the NAACP, he was the very first African American to receive a doctoral degree from Harvard University. Frederick Douglass, was an American social reformer, orator, writer and statesman. After escaping from slavery, he became a leader of the abolitionist movement. Langston Hughes, a Poet, Essayist, Novelist, Playwright, Journalist, & Lyricist born in Joplin, Missouri. Sometimes called The Poet Laureate of Harlem. One of America's great writers. Malcolm X, born Malcolm Little, was an African American Muslim minister and human rights activist. To his admirers, he was a courageous advocate for the rights of African Americans.

    The Library of Congress, Association for the Study of African American Life and History chose to celebrate Black Women in American Culture and History this year. We would also like to reflect on the value of contribution from a few of our famous male figures:


    President Lyndon B. Johnson made civil rights one of his administration's top priorities, using his formidable political skills to pass the Twenty-Fourth Amendment, which outlawed poll taxes, in 1964. Now, a week after "Bloody Sunday" in Selma, Johnson gave a televised speech before Congress in which he denounced the assault. Two days later, the President sent the Voting Rights bill to Congress. The resolution, signed into law on August 6, 1965, empowered the federal government to oversee voter registration and elections in counties that had used tests to determine voter eligibility or where registration or turnout had been less than 50 percent in the 1964 p res iden t ia l e lec t ion . I t a l so banned discriminatory literacy tests and expanded voting rights for non-English speaking Americans. The law's effects were wide and powerful. By 1968, nearly 60 percent of eligible African Americans were registered to vote in Mississippi, and other southern states showed similar improvement. Between 1965 and 1990, the number of black state legislators and members of Congress rose from two to 160.

    Voting Rights Act of 1965 In the century following Reconstruction, African Americans in the South faced overwhelming obstacles to voting. Despite the Fifteenth and Nineteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, which had enfranchised black men and women, southern voter registration boards used poll taxes, literacy tests, and other bureaucratic impediments to deny African Americans their legal rights. Southern blacks also risked harassment, intimidation, economic reprisals, and physical violence when they tried to register or vote. As a result, African Americans had little if any political power, either locally or nationally. In Mississippi, for instance, only five percent of eligible blacks were registered to vote in 1960. The Voting Rights Act of 1965, grew out of both public protest and private political negotiation. Starting in 1961, CORE joined SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference) in staging nonviolent demonstrations in Georgia, and Birmingham. They hoped to attract national media attention and pressure the U.S. government to protect Black's constitutional rights. Newspaper photos and TV broadcasts of Birmingham's racist police commissioner, Eugene "Bull" Connor, and his men violently attacking the protesters with water hoses, police dogs, and nightsticks awakened the consciences of whites....


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