Friday, February 1, 2013

Black History Month 2013: At the Crossroads

Happy Black History Month!

The 2013 theme of Black History month is:

At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality: The Emancipation Proclamation and the March on Washington

Charles Bibbs, Artist
"The year 2013 marks two important anniversaries in the history of African Americans and the United States. On January 1, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation set the United States on the path of ending slavery. ...In 1963, a century later, America once again stood at the crossroads. Nine years earlier, the U.S. Supreme Court had outlawed racial segregation in public schools, but the nation had not yet committed itself to equality of citizenship. ...On August 28, 1963, hundreds of thousands of Americans, blacks and whites, Jews and gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, marched to the memorial of Abraham Lincoln, the author of the Emancipation Proclamation, in the continuing pursuit of equality of citizenship and self-determination."  
Read the entire summary of this year's theme here:
Black History Month, also known as African-American History Month in America, is an annual observance in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom for remembrance of important people and events in the history of the African diaspora. It is celebrated annually in the United States and Canada in February[ and the United Kingdom in October.

History of Black History Month
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.

Today the celebration of this month continues as a time to remember past trials, celebrate achievements and commit to the future growth of our culture.  It is not intended to exclude any other race or culture, but simply to recognize our own contributions to America and to the world.  We also commit to always include our own history and culture as part of American history and the history of the world.
Carter G. Woodson
"When Carter G. Woodson established Negro History week in 1926, he realized the importance of providing a theme to focus the attention of the public. The intention has never been to dictate or limit the exploration of the Black experience, but to bring to the public's attention important developments that merit emphasis.  For those interested in the study of identity and ideology, an exploration of ASALH's Black History themes is itself instructive. Over the years, the themes reflect changes in how people of African descent in the United States have viewed themselves, the influence of social movements on racial ideologies, and the aspirations of the black community. The changes notwithstanding, the list reveals an overarching continuity in ASALH--our dedication to exploring historical issues of importance to people of African descent and race relations in America." Daryl Michael Scott, Howard University

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