Why America Needs Black History Month


 

Black History has not been incorporated or included into most American school curriculum. Recently I have spoke with a young white co-worker who is from my Mom’s Hometown of Dayton, Ohio and came of age in the 1990s. Let’s say he is in his mid to late 20s a well educated young man who admitted to me that he had never heard of many of the Black Artists, Scientists, Inventors, Photographers, Painters, Sculptors, Writers etc… that I know and admire.

Many white young people especially those raised in the Mid-West or the South, ie the “Bible Belt” do not know or have even heard about Blacks who built America. Says a lot about the American “Mis-education system” which excludes entire races and populations because they don’t fit into our lopsided concept of America.

Also one of the younger white assistant curators at my museum workplace who recently curated a Block Buster exhibit of a living African-American artist had to admit that he never knew or learned about the Great Migration until he curated the special exhibit. That’s sad.  So in the U.S.A. you’re not really receiving an education so much as an indoctrination into all things white. White is seen as worthy whereas Black and Native American cultures and contributions are rarely acknowledged.

Black History is American History!!

Here is some more information about the Great Migration and artist Jacob Lawrence who chronicled this important passage of American History.  I have had the opportunity to see this collection at MoMA twice.

Jacob Lawrence, The Migration Series, 1940-41 (*long version*)

 

Jacob Lawrence: The Migration Series

 

History Brief: The Great Migration

 

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8 thoughts on “Why America Needs Black History Month

  1. None of us stand much of a chance unless we’re white AND rich with our brand new, totally education-ignorant Sec. of Ed. DeVoss’s confirmation – I’m sure they’ll be writing everybody but the Carnegies, Mellons, Fords, etc. out of the history books ere long.

    Or maybe she’ll continue her focus on enriching the private schools and have little time (and less money) for much that happens in Public Schools. God help our kids, and thank God for the ‘net!

    Off point but my mother went to High School in Dayton – and was born in Fairborn. Small world, huh?
    xx,
    mgh
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”

    1. Wow!! Small world. My Mom was born in Davy, WV, but grew up in Dayton, Ohio. I had lots of fun talking with my young co-worker about Dayton, Ohio circa 1990s… Not much has changed in that area of the country. As for Black History I grew up in the 1960s/70s and learned all my Black History knowledge from my Dad. Actually I never heard the celebration of Black History Month until maybe the 1980s long after I graduated from High School. Again I Thank God for my Father who taught me about Black American Historical figures. Also both my parents instilled in me a love for reading. My Mom taught me to read by age four and I can truly say both my parents were instrumental in my education. Although many parents rely on the school system for education a great deal of learning/education comes from parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and the community at large.

      1. I was lucky too — my love of reading was instilled early. I believe it is SO important to read to young children, and my mother did as well. Both my parents were avid readers, but my Dad didn’t have much time for it until after he retired. Then he reread all the classics — in between his love for Tom Clancy novels 🙂

        I had a black baby doll I named SarahLee (my favorite), but there was very little to find to read about black history that was at all accurate. I did have a child’s book about George Washington Carver, but that was about it back then. So sad.
        xx,
        mgh

      2. No. Not much material or literature available to many Americans back then but I remember my Dad had well weathered Langston Hughes book Jesse B. Semple and from there I discovered many other Harlem Renaissance classics. Of course the Public Library was a valuable asset and we were fortunate to have family photos from my Dad’s side dating back to after the Civil War and my Father was forever discussing the role of Black soldiers in the Civil War including my Great Great Grandfather William Henry Halstead. When I was young I did not take this history seriously but in recent years as I’ve gotten older I’ve been doing my own family history research. Back in 2008 I also connected with the descendants of my Great great Grandfathers unit The Connecticut 29th Colored Regiment. http://www.conn29th.org/descendants.htm
        I’ve gone to many Civil War Re-enactments and other special events. Met descendants of both the 29th and 54th Colored Regiments. The 54th Colored Regiment was featured in the movie Glory with Denzel Washington. Living History!!

        My Dad did make it a point to find Black doll babies for me. He gave me one for Christmas that was my size and height! At the time I was about 4 or 5. I also remember having a Julia doll from the TV Series Julia starring African-American actress Diahann Carroll. When I pulled the string she said key phrases from the TV show. However one day I pulled the string either too hard or one too many times and she stopped speaking!! Oh No!! LOL!!

      3. There are now black American Girl dolls (and one who is Hispanic, I believe) – but you still see mostly white dolls in the stores. And the only oriental dolls I’ve seen are in kimonas.

        I was aware of “colored” regiments as far back as the Civil War, as my family is military – but I was never very keen on history in general and military history in particular, so I never had the urge to follow up on my own.

        My grandmother bought most of my dolls – and since she wasn’t a very nice woman (who thought you could buy love, I suppose), I wasn’t very fond of many of those dolls either. She was such a snob, that even as I tiny I must have figured she would NEVER have purchased SarahLee – my constant companion for years, I am told. I think Santa brought her, however.

        But I sure wish I had those dolls today – they would be worth a fortune, and I would sell every last one of them! Ricky Ricardo, Tiny Tears, the original Betsy Wetsy, Shirley Temple, an entire doll family of 12 -6″ dolls (both parents, boy and girl children & a baby) – and many more. I’m sure my mother gave them away in one of our many moves, since I never played with any of them except one particular Madame Alexander 6″ doll I called Muffy (I think she was originally Little Miss Muffet). She had an entire wardrobe, a bed, a dresser, etc. – so I was fascinated by the clothes mostly.

        But I left dolls behind extremely early – long before the Barbie craze. My younger sister had a Skipper and maybe a Ken, but I don’t think either of us liked Barbie dolls. My brothers had those soldier “dolls” (shh – don’t call them that – they’re GI Joes!!!)

        I lusted for my very own erector set – never got one, but my younger brothers got something similar.
        xx,
        mgh

      4. When my cousin Roni was a little girl I bought her American Girl dolls. Even had one custom made to look like her. I also purchased the clothing and other items that went with the dolls. Expensive. She loved but as her mother moved around a lot they got lost. Roni is in her 20s now fascinated by guys not dolls!! I wish I had my Baseball card collection. If I had kept all those cards I would now be retired!! I did have a Barbie doll which the dog got ahold of and chewed off her feet!! LOL!! My brother Stephen had the action figures, ie G.I. Joe and the Black one called Action Jackson. He also had Tonka trucks, little race cars and other toys that I would steal from his bedroom to create my towns and villages. Naturally this would make him angry and sibling wars would ensue. I liked messing around with his toys but he had little or no use for mine except when I made those little cakes in my Easy Bake Oven. Me, Mom and baby Bro would chow down on those Easy Bake goodies. Never could get my Dad to eat any of my culinary creations though….. Hmmm…

      5. I would have loved one of those ovens! I was unaware that they really cooked – I thought they were like those play stores I thought were dumb.

        My sibs had cowboys on horses too. My sister was horse crazy, so she got rid of Roy & Dale and played with their mounts.

        People who tell tales of Barbies most mention the shoes. Guess you missed out on that craze, huh? 🙂
        xx,
        mgh

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