A Brief Note about Black History Month
From physician Rebecca Lee Crumpler (1833-1895) and businessman Reginald Lewis (1942-1993) to cartoonist Jackie Ormes (1911-1986) and architect Paul R. Williams (1894-1980), Black History Month has provided an opportunity to take a look at 21 fascinating individuals who succeeded against all odds.
Each day I was inspired by what these men and women accomplished. Some started out as slaves, some of their families encountered a challenge just finding an elementary school for African-American children to attend, and some just didn’t quit when discrimination threw down obstacle after obstacle. By celebrating Black History Month, America Comes Alive has celebrated the human spirit, and I am in awe and I am inspired.
We will continue these mailings in March with women’s history… and not just white women’s history. If you would like to remain on the mailing list, send me a quick email: [email protected]
Do we need Black History Month or Women’s History Month?
During February there were news stories about whether Black History Month was needed. If history books were more interesting—and more accurate—then we wouldn’t need Black History Month or Women’s History Month. However, the stories we still hear about America—even our current news stories—are primarily about white men.
I am still reeling over the statistic that almost one-third of all cowboys were African-American. (See Bill Pickett.) They should have been in the history books! (If my weekend goes as I hope, I will be visiting a museum dedicated to the black cowboy, and I will report back.) Since no one is discussing a major revamp of all school history texts, I vote that we continue on with these months dedicated to African-Americans and women). The specific focus in February and March offers us an opportunity for us to fill out the picture. (In the fall I plan a celebration of our Hispanic history.)
I have found these stories about a singular individual a compelling way to tell a meaningful story about an era, a locale, and of course, a person. Sadly, schools don’t have time to focus very much on an individual’s story, yet it says so much.
If you have suggestions of people to profile for next year, let me know, and if you missed any of the stories they will remain on the website. And please share these stories with your friends and your children… Our past comes alive when we can “walk in someone else’s shoes” for a few minutes.
And above all, thank you for joining me! I feel so fortunate to have spent February writing about these amazing people, and I am delighted you have come with me on the journey.
Remember to send me an email if you want to be on the women’s mailing list.
Mary Ellen Pleasant, Entrepreneur and Abolitionist
Abolitionist and successful Gold Rush entrepreneur Mary Ellen Pleasant was a free woman of mixed-race who dedicated her life to equality for African Americans. From... »
Horace Pippin: Gifted Painter and Harlem Hellfighter
When it became clear that the U.S. would enter World War I, Horace Pippin left... »
Louis Armstrong’s Childhood
Louis Armstrong was one of the finest jazz musicians in the world. His work broke ground for a new style of popular American music for... »
Sarah Keys Evans: Taking a Stand for Civil Rights
Sarah Keys Evans did not intend to take a stand for civil rights in 1952 when she boarded an interstate bus in Trenton, New Jersey.... »