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February is Black History Month which pays tribute to major historical events and the brave individuals involved in those events that helped shape the success of this great nation.

Black History Month, or National African American History Month, is an annual celebration of achievements by black Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of African Americans in U.S. history. The event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating black history.

The story of Black History Month begins in 1915, half a century after theThirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in the United States. That September, the Harvard-trained historian Carter G. Woodson and the prominent minister Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), an organization dedicated to researching and promoting achievements by black Americans and other peoples of African descent. Known today as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), the group sponsored a national Negro History week in 1926, choosing the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The event inspired schools and communities nationwide to organize local celebrations, establish history clubs and host performances and lectures.

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5 things you didn’t know about Frederick Douglass by Halimah Abdullah, CNN

In the decades the followed, mayors of cities across the country began issuing yearly proclamations recognizing Negro History Week. By the late 1960s, thanks in part to the Civil Rights Movement and a growing awareness of black identity, Negro History Week had evolved into Black History Month on many college campuses. President Gerald R. Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976, calling upon the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

Since then, every American president has designated February as Black History Month and endorsed a specific theme. The 2013 theme, At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality: The Emancipation Proclamation and the March on Washington, marks the 150th and 50th anniversaries of two pivotal events in African-American history.

History.com Staff. “Black History Month.” History.com. A + E Networks, 2010. Web. January 29, 2016. <history.com/topics/black-history/black-history-monthhostry>.


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In April 1968, Dr. King traveled to Memphis to support striking sanitation workers—members of AFSCME Local 1733. The strike was in many ways more than a dispute over workplace issues—it was a struggle for dignity for predominantly African American workers joining together in a union to create a voice on the job and in their community. It was while supporting these striking union members that Dr. King was assassinated by a sniper on April 4, 1968.

America’s union movement champions those who lack a voice in our society. Union members played a critical role in the civil rights struggles of the past and that involvement continues today.

Full Article >>> aflcio.org, FL-CIO AMERICA’S UNIONS: Labor & Civil Rights

Few of the groups that we should honor during Black History Month are more deserving than the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, a pioneering union that played a key role in the winning of equal rights by African Americans.

Full Article >>> dickmeister.com, Labor – And A Whole Lot More: A Union that Made Black History

“I AM A MAN!” the signs proclaimed in large, bold letters. They were held high, proudly and defiantly, by African American men marching through the streets of Memphis, Tennessee, in the spring of 1968.

Full Article >>> labornet.com, Martin Luther King:  A Champion of Labor by Dick Meister

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Dr. King was a longtime champion of the labor movement, and he died in 1968 while marching with sanitation workers in Memphis, Tenn., all members of AFSCME Local 1733. Those workers were fighting for the recognition of their union, for collective bargaining rights and for the respect that every person is entitled to.

Dr. King often spoke of the links between the struggle for workers’ rights and the cause of civil rights. “The coalition that can have the greatest impact in the struggle for human dignity here in America is that of the Negro and the forces of labor, because their fortunes are so closely intertwined,” he wrote in 1962. He knew that the labor movement had been at the forefront of social and economic progress in the United States, and he wanted to harness the power of working people to transform our society into a more just and prosperous land.

Full Article >>> thegrio.com, Martin Luther King Jr., the Labor Movement and the American Dream by Leo A. Saunders

African Americans are known to have participated in labor actions before the Civil War. In the early nineteenth century, African Americans played a dominant role in the caulking trade, and there is documentation of a strike by black caulkers at the Washington Navy Yard in 1835. Caulking was of great importance in shipbuilding, for a ship was not fit for service unless it was caulked to prevent leaking.

Full Article >>> archives.gov, African Americans and the American Labor Movement By James Gilbert Cassedy

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Carter G. Woodson was the son of former enslaved Africans James and Eliza Riddle Woodson. He gained a master’s degree at the University of Chicago in 1908, and in 1912, he received a Ph.D. in history from Harvard University. Woodson, known as the “Father of Black History” started Negro History week in 1926, which later became Black History Month.

When King was describing the “kinship” between the two movements, organized labor was strong, representing about a third of the non-agricultural private-sector workforce. The civil rights movement was still a fledgling campaign, not yet having won passage of the Civil Rights Act or the Voting Rights Act.

Full Article >>> washingtonpost.com, Why the right to form a union should be a civil right by Richard D. Kahlenberg and Moshe Z. Marvit

9 Interesting Little Known Facts About Black History Month >>> atlanticblackstar.com, by Jason Moore

Frederick Douglass, a former slave and eminent human rights leader in the abolition movement, was the first black citizen to hold a high U.S. government rank.

Full Article >>> biography.com, Frederick Douglass Biography
Civil Rights Activist (c. 1818–1895)

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Fannie Lou Hamer was instrumental in organizing Mississippi’s Freedom Summer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and later became the vice-chair of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, which she represented at the 1964 Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Fannie Lou Hamer (1917-1977) was a civil rights activist whose passionate depiction of her own suffering in a racist society helped focus attention on the plight of African-Americans throughout the South.

Full Article >>> history.com, Fannie Lou Hamer

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Septima Poinsette Clark Known as the “Grandmother of the American Civil Rights Movement,” Septima Poinsette Clark was an educator and civil rights activist who played a major role in the voting rights of African-Americans.

In 1920, while serving as an educator in Charleston, Septima Poinsette Clark worked with the NAACP to gather petitions allowing blacks to serve as principals in Charleston schools. Their signed petitions resulted in the first black principal in Charleston.

Full Article >>> madamenoire.com, 7 of the Most Unrecognized Women in Black History

 

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