Will our celebrations of African American history and contributions expand and improve our diversity efforts?
This question retrieves my memories of my career in an educational institution in the Northeast where there were less than 5 percent of the staff members were African Americans and if my memory serves me correctly, less than 20 percent of the students were African Americans. In fact, the reported figures in the school year of 1975 was there were a total of 400 staff members, mostly and 2,400 students.
Two years before I was hired this high school had experienced a nationwide publicized racial protest. Two years after I was hired, the African American faculty members and a white American English Department chairperson met and decided not to allow another month of February to pass without the planning of school wide projects and an assembly program for the high school’s students, staff and community to in celebration of the history and contribution of African Americans. The exclusion of provided knowledge of our history and contributions was becoming a major factor.
The day of the major assembly program for the students, faculty it began to snow after school in this New England town, yet it did not affect the attendance of our successful program. This year’s project became the “kick-off” for the school system’s mandatory inclusions within all this town’s school s curriculum and in addition inspired more community and institutions to collaborate with us even more.
Carter G. Woodson, a proud historian during the year of 1926, had declared the second week in February to be the “Negro History Week,” which soon afterwards the entire month of February was named soon afterwards “Afro American History Month.” Today, most of us have heard and often hear McDonald’s adopted slogan and I may be paraphrasing, "African American History is celebrated 365 days of the year.” In most cases the celebration of the month or year round provides information of earlier heroes such as Sojourner Truth, Harriett Tubman, Booker T. Washington, Quincy Jones, Duke Ellington, Jacob Lawrence and many others.
After about five years what became continuous successful developments of school and community projects for schools and community highlighting and focused on the African American legacies and contributions, students from our high school confronted the planners about other cultures, especially “White Americans” histories being avoided. Without hesitation the initial committee of the original school staff members renamed the February celebration, “Brotherhood Month.” Other cultures were already participating of every aspect of planning and implementations. As you guess, the next year, the title of the month was changed too Brotherhood/Sisterhood Month. Then, about five years, later the theme of the celebrations returned to “African America History Month” and when the popular song, “I’m Black and I’m proud” was part of a movement, a year or two, “Black History Month” was the celebration title for many of the schools.
Personal histories come to mine of my background and experiences about how such celebration and played a role in current and future motivations as in Chattanooga where I attended and completed school through high school. This was before the passing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and Brown vs The Board of Education and in 1994 the late governor of Florida, Chiles, was quoted to say, “African American must not be minimized or trivialized” when he signed a law to assure African American history be taught in the public schools. The years before, our history was taught in black schools, mostly for the purpose to provide knowledge to inspire us students that establish more racial pride and for the motivation toward achieving and excelling more than expected.
Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King and later President Barak Obama are among powerful leaders given credit who emphasized powerfully how crucial unity and diversity affects the success of our country and the world. We’ve learned to assimilate toward creating equality and fairness will solve many of the world problems. “Diversity is American’s greatest strength,” pronounce on the speakers at one of the local Dr. Martin Luther King’s annual celebrations events.
African-American history does require cultural inclusion, especially within the content and context of all of United States history. True and sincere acts of diversity require, and so does ongoing goals, toward inclusion in our efforts. Just as we have provided recommendations to incite and assist in the planning of projects for all ages, especially for our youth. We continue, now as we address this article’s initial question and to emphasize “fit-all” diversity considerations by sharing thought-provoking words, phrases and sentences of recommendations to encourage activation:
Erase “us and them.”
Develop more “cross-town” partnerships.
Utilize “only,” only when essential.
Group discussions following selected filming
No designated “black churches” and “White Churches”
Greek Organizations Collaborations
Public and Private Schools Institutional Sharing
Feed-backs much sooner
Add all the colors to the rainbows
“Tokens” are fortunate for work opportunities.
A+ for your inclusion efforts
Highlight cultures .
“All” can work just fine.
Desire and positive intentions work well.
All of GOD’s children ...
Show-up, step-up and look around.
The youth are receiving “our clues.”
Take your mirror with you.
“Sit next to me.”
Announce the impact, sooner.
Enrich and Embrace
Celebrating African American history and contributions, too, plays a major role when improving diversity with many objectives shared toward global progress.
Eva Jo Johnson
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Ms. Johnson, I totally enjoyed reading your opinion piece, however, you lost me when you mentioned MLK and Obama within the same breath. Obama shouldn't be mentioned when it comes to Civil Rights.
I can't find a thing he's done to put a positive spin on racial relations and to mention him in the same sentence with MLK is almost sacreligious.
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It's easy to distinguish the people who hated Dr. King in his lifetime. They're usually the same ones who never miss a beat to bash, attack and declare their hatred for President Obama.
People who today claim their undying love for Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement despised both in their day. They hated both Dr. King and the movement as much as they hate President Obama today. Pretending any fake love today won't fly. Those of us old enough remember can recall how both Dr. King and the CRM were constantly being sabotaged at every turn. Many supporters of Dr. King, Jr. and the movement, both black and white, constantly received death threats. Quite a number of those threats were followed through. Names such as The Rev. Bruce Klunder, William Lewis Moore, French news reporter Paul Guihard, Rev. James Reeb, Mrs. Viola Gregg Liuzzo, all whites who supported Dr. King and the movement, but are rarely mentioned. Then there's Jimmie Lee Jackson, Lt.Col. Lemuel Penn, Charles Eddie Moore and Henry Hezekiah Dee, Louis Allen, 13 year old Virgil Lamar Ware, Cpl. Roman Ducksworth Jr., to name a few and others whose names will never be known. Stop the phony love.