Handclapping games, Double Dutch and other forms of jump rope and cheers have been passed down between generations of African American girls. According to Fisk University scholar Jessie Carney Smith, cheers help Black girls assert themselves and maintain positive self-esteem. It remains a significant part of community building among young African American women. What was your favorite cheer growing up?
I grew up in Arizona. I love my home state, but I will be the first to admit that it does not have a great track record in terms of race relations. Over the last couple of years, Arizona’s race related issues usually centered around immigration, though there have also been movements to ban Ethnic Studies in public schools. Seemingly contradictory, Arizona manages to be both the birthplace of Cesar Chavez and SB 1070. The state is no stranger to controversy; this is the same state that did not recognize Martin Luther King, Jr. Day until 1992 after Governor Evan Mecham rescinded the national holiday on his first day in office in 1987 (Governor Mecham also made news on his last day in office when he became the first U.S. governor impeached and removed from office in 59 years).
Happy Black History Month! For Black History Month this year, the Association of African American History and Life (ASALH) asks everybody to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Dr. Carter G. Woodson, a groundbreaking Black studies scholar who authored The Miseducation of the Negro and amassed an archive of primary sources that is now housed at the Library of Congress, founded ASALH. An abolitionist of American ignorance about Black history and the son of emancipated slaves, Woodson founded Negro History Week in 1926, which spanned between Abraham Lincoln’s and Frederick Douglass’ birthdays. After the successes of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements, the week expanded into Black History Month in 1976.
I was not familiar with Patricia Stephens Due until I recently stumbled across an old interview with her on NPR. Growing up, most of what I learned about the Civil Rights Movement was about the work of Dr. King and the March on Washington. In school I didn’t learn a lot about the everyday women who helped the movement that changed our country and resonated among Africans around the world.
Robin explains that yes, Black History Month is more than a month. But February is a great opportunity to support grassroots organizations and local institutions. She encourages you to enjoy yourself and Black History “The House Down”. For more information on Carter G. Woodson and the legacy of Black History Month, check out the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.
Black History Month is in full swing and we have been enjoying all that New York City has to offer. If you haven’t had the chance to check out some BHM events around the city, it’s not too late. Here are some of the events we recommend (whole calendar after the jump). All events are free unless otherwise noted. If you know of any events to add, send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“French and Francophone Cinemas in Dialogue” Roundtable discussion with Philip Watts, Madeleine Dobie, Hamid Dabashi, Francoise Pfaff and Sophie Saint-Just. Wednesday, February 14th. 5-7 PM. Columbia University, Morningside Campus World Room, Journalism, Room 305.
“Female Leadership in Slavery and Freedom” Gallery Talk. Thursday, February 16th. Noon. The African Burial Ground National Monument Visitor Center, 290 Broadway (near Foley Square, north of City Hall). 1st Floor. Call 212.637.2019 for reservations.
“The Indelible Influence of Malcolm X” Hear Esther Armah, Ishmael Beah, Kathleen Cleaver, Dr. Farah Jasmine Griffin, Kahlil Gibran Muhammad, Darryl Pinckney, Meg Ventrudo and Salim Washington read from Malcolm X’s memorable speeches and writings. Tuesday, February 21st. 7-8:30 PM. The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (515 Malcolm X Boulevard). Langston Hughes Auditorium. Register here.