Reflections on black history

Black History Month 2019 calls to attention those men and women who, despite segregation and derision from fellow countrymen, chose to serve in the cause of freedom as Americans.

“Black Migrations” is the theme from the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, the founders of Black History Month. That theme emphasizes the movement of people of African descent to new destinations and subsequently to new social realities.

From southern farms to southern cities, from the South to the Northeast, Midwest and West, those migrations resulted in a more diverse and stratified interracial and intra-racial urban population amid a changing society, the association explains.

As always, the month calls to mind great community leaders, from the civil rights movement, from academia, from city leadership, law enforcement and daily life.

Black History Month was established by Carter G. Woodson. Woodson was born in 1875 and was the son of former slaves. He was a former coal miner and educator and understood a proper education was important in seeking to make the most out of one’s freedom. He earned his high school diploma in an all-black high school in Huntington, and advanced degrees at the University of Chicago. He was the second African-American to earn a doctorate at Harvard. He established the association in 1915 and began “Negro History Week” in 1926 after recognizing a lack of information on the accomplishments of blacks in American history. February was chosen because of the correlation with the birthdays of abolitionist author Frederick Douglass and President Lincoln.

Taught the theories of “black inferiority” the same as white students when he earned his degrees, Woodson knew better, and knew his mission was to teach truth.

And that’s what is available to all during Black History Month, a chance to ponder contributions in all walks of life, to be educated, to learn and to appreciate.

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