“Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.” -Carter G. Woodson
February is Black History Month, also known as African American History Month, and is a time to celebrate the achievements and acknowledge the inspiration of African Americans in the United States. Around the world; countries such as Canada and those in the United Kingdom also dedicate a month to celebrate African/African American history. Unlike those countries, the U.S. began celebrating Black History Month in 1979. The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) was founded by University of Chicago graduate Carter G. Woodson in 1915, and was the first step to creating such an important commemoration. The ASALH initiated the first African American History Week in February, 1926. This week was selected because it included the birthdays of two important and influential figures in African American history, Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. In 1976, President Ford and the ASALH expanded African American commemoration by the creation of African American History Month. The importance of African American figures is celebrated throughout February to honor their roles and contributions to the United States.
For more information on Black History Month visit our previous blogs commemorating important African American figures:
Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/58785868@N02/7111227805/sizes/o/
Eartha Kitt, best known for her recordings of “C’est Si Bon” and “Santa Baby,” was the Beyoncé of her day. Eartha Kitt was born on a plantation in South Carolina until she and her mother moved off the plantation and settled in New York. Upon her arrival in New York, her show-business career began to take off and soon she was appearing in film, theater, cabaret, music and television. Her initial career began with her starring role in Dr. Faustus and continued to her most renowned role in the television version of Batman as her role of Catwoman. The younger generation typically remember Eartha Kitt for her role as YZMA in the Disney movie, Emperor’s New Groove.
However aside from all of her success in film Eartha Kitt is most notably recognized for her role as an activist and social speaker. It was her position on the Vietnam War that caused her blacklist from the professional community, which transpired during her visit at the White House during President Johnson term. Eartha Kitt’s opinion on the Vietnam War is as follows:
“The children of America are not rebelling for no reason. They are not hippies for no reason at all. We don’t have what we have on Sunset Blvd. for no reason. They are rebelling against something. There are so many things burning the people of this country, particularly mothers. They feel they are going to raise sons-and I know what it’s life, and you have children of your own, Mrs. Johnson- we raise children and send them to war.”
After her statement on the Vietnam War finding work within the United States became challenging and limited, causing her to network outside of the United States to find work.
For more information on African American Women in History please visit the Rebecca Crown Library.
Image Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Eartha_Kitt_2007.jpg
Ralph Bunche was born August 7, 1904 (or 1903 depending on the source) in Detroit, Michigan. Bunche relocated several times before he settled down in Los Angeles, California. Bunche graduated from Jefferson High School as valedictorian and continued to the University of California where he became a member of the Phi Beta Kappa and graduated in 1927 as class valedictorian once again! At Harvard University he received both his M.A. in 1928 and his Ph D. in 1934 in governmental/international relations, earning the honor of being the first African American to earn a political science doctorate.
Through his work in the National Defense Program during World War II and his involvement in the U.S. State Department played a vital role in the establishment of the United Nations. After joining the Global Organization’s Secretariat during 1947 and 1949 his preeminent accomplishment was through his involvement in his work to achieve peace in Palestine.
The following year, in 1950, Ralph Bunche was awarded the Noble Peace Prize for his meditation endeavors during the 1940’s the Middle East, making him the first African American to be bestowed for the Nobel Peace Prize.
To view a Ralph Bunche work, click here for Rebecca Crown Library’s selection of his work.
|IMAGE CREDIT: Van Vechten, Carl, photographer. Portrait of Ralph Bunche, 1951. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. Reproduction NumberLC-USZ62-109113.
February 1st will mark the beginning of Black History Month (also referred to as African-American Month) in both the United States and Canada. This dedication month is celebrated annually to highlight and remember the achievement of African Americans and illuminate their vital role in the history of the United States.
The origin of Black History Month cultivated after the national Negro History Week of 1915, which was established by the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH). The ASNLH was coordinated by Carter G. Woodson, a Harvard historian, and Jesse E. Moorland, a minister. President Jimmy Carter was the first of the presidents to commence February as Black History Month, stating it calls “attention to the contributions of black people to our overall progress and development, the month of February thus serves to build goodwill and understanding between all people.” Every U.S. president thereafter officially dedicated the month of February as Black History Month.
See also: The Smithsonian’s online exhibit for Black History Month
February is African American History Month, so check out some of the great resources available that help celebrate the accomplishments of African Americans throughout history.
Here’s just a sample of books available in the Crown Library:
- 1001 Things Everyone Should Know about African American History by Jeffrey C. Stewart (2006). Call number: E185.S798 2006
- The Sounds of Slavery: Discovering African American History through Songs, Sermons, and Speech by Shane White and Graham White (2005). Call number: E443.W59 2005
- The Black Arts Movement: Literary Nationalism in the 1960s and 1970s by James Edward Smethurst (2005). Call number: PS153.N5 S56 2005
And here’s some great online resources to check out: