Black History Month

Frederick Douglass portrait
Image via Wikipedia

By Donya Albert
Staff Writer

Across America, colleges, churches and private organizations are orchestrating events to commemorate Black History Month. Why February though, what about that particular month makes it any more worthy than August? Formal recognition of African American history can be credited to Dr. Carter G. Woodson, a Harvard graduate. In 1916, he created the Journal of Negro History; prior to which no American document logging black history has been recognized. Dr. Woodson also established the observance of the second week in February as Negro History Week because Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln (individuals with major influence on black history) both had birthdays around this time. February, however, has no shortage of events to qualify itself as an excellent period to reflect on the history of African Americans.

  • Feb. 23rd 1868- Co-founder of NAACP, W.E.B Dubois, was born.
  • Feb. 3rd 1870- the15th Amendment was passed giving blacks the right to vote.
  • Feb. 25th 1870- Hiran R. Revels, the first black US Senator took his oath of office.
  • Feb. 12th 1909- National Association for the Advancement of colored People (NAACP) founded.
  • Feb.1st 1960- Students initiate civil rights sit-in at Greensborough N.C. college.
  • Feb. 21st 1965- Malcolm X is shot to death.

Larger cities have month long events, many with fantastic displays, musicals and live concerts, to educate citizens. Amazing 2010 (hosted by environmentally Sound Music TM,) will have a series of events depicting the story of a slave who eventually becomes the leader of his land. This is taking place in Sherman Oaks, California. New York City will have a free display at the American Museum of Natural History. The musical Sedalia to Harlem is running in Flushing Town Hall and Queens College is having its annual Salute to Black History Month, to name a few. The White House, however, is probably where we should all be next month. Barack Obama, the nation’s first African American president, has the ideal venue, funds for food, decorations, party favors, and Michelle Obama– the perfect ingredients for a month long party. It should come as no surprise then that Bob Dylan and John Mellencamp will be headlining “In Performance at the White House: A Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement”, emceed by none other than Morgan Freeman and Queen Latifah. Who will be performing you ask? Seal, Natalie Cole, and Jennifer Hudson, to name a few. You can catch the show on Feb 11th at 8 p.m. but it will not be live. If you find tickets to the live showing the night before, email me.

So where does Scranton stand in all this? The Anthracite Heritage Museum at McDade Park will be running an art exhibit from Feb1st to Feb 28th, by C. Edgar Patience. Online searches brought me to this event and not much else. All activities taking place in Scranton will most likely be posted after the fact, giving a summary, some pictures and a general feeling of “wish you could have been here”. I say this because every time I encountered an event that looked interesting, it had already occurred. I found a theatrical work at The University of Scranton, the group toured worldwide and I missed their stop in Scranton as the article was dated January 2009.

Don’t lose faith in our town just yet though, because Scranton has proven itself to be conscious of its diversity as shown in the number of activities that took place in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The town held a march which started at The United Neighborhood Center and ended at the courthouse downtown. Viewmont Mall hosted a volunteer fair and food drive. Local nonprofit groups brought literature and all foods donated went to Lackawanna County pantries. We didn’t get Queen Latifah to headline anything but in the grand scheme Scranton is definitely moving forward in actively recognizing Black History Month. As with most events that should be sold out, advertising (or lack thereof) is a major problem. Flyers on bulletin boards and word of mouth can only do so much. Regretfully, I will not be able to inform you about any other awesome African American events until next year, after they have probably already occurred and I’m able to successfully Google them.

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