Are you ready for some spirited commentary and a frank warning with historical background written by Deeann D. Mathews about what happens when a music artist goes to work with a record label? Don't be shocked by Black History the Music Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know!
If you went out on the streets of Philadelphia, PA and asked complete strangers what Black History Month means, what responses would you get? Teacher Peter Tobias from the University of the Arts found out when his students, camera in hand, crossed cultures in the streets to get the real answers. You'll be surprised what you read!
Now that the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, has joined Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, and other black history people as a trailblazing pioneer with an astonishing first, what happens next? In his inauguration speech, President Obama noted that we have to ask not whether government is too big, but whether government works. If it doesn't work, or it's not working, then Mr. Obama will have a lot of pressure as an agent of change to create a bureaucratic recipe for success. His biggest obstacle moving forward is the degree to which all Americans mentally prepare for the inevitable sacrifices ahead. No, Barack won't be able to wave a magic wand and save humanity from itself, but he'll get that much closer to becoming a successful agent of change with eager participation rather than indifferent apathy from the millions of kindred spririts who now beam with pride from his achievement. What will you do to help the new president succeed? For some, it may be volunteering in their community. For others, it may be playing a grass roots role in the local political process. For even more, maybe it's just graduating from high school or college. When the euphoria of the Barack Obama election fades, the true measure of his success as president will be to the degree in which he inspired us all to be more productive global citizens.
Barack Obama has made history, millions have rejoiced at the news, but hundreds of print newspapers have woefully underestimated the nostalgic demand for the memorabilia value of their November 5, 2008 editions. Why did newspapers fail to boost circulations in light of the election of the first African American to become President of the United States? All over the USA, folks have been lamenting about the lack of local papers. The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, USA Today, etc. All gone in the early hours of November 5th from newsstands. Some papers, like the New York Times, are now prepared to publish collector's editions. A few will be charging higher prices to get their paper into your hands. At the expense of the print editions, 2008 will be remembered as the year the online press favorably embraced the rush for information about a USA favorite son from Hawaii who would win the White House and shock the world.
USA teens are out of touch with not just African American history, but with history and traditional culture in general. Common Core, an advocacy group pushing for the teaching of more liberal arts in schools, released the shocking report today as reported in USA Today. Out of 1,200 17 year-olds surveyed, only 43% knew that the Civil War was fought between 1850 - 1900. 30% did not know that President John F. Kennedy said, "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country." It's troubling that real history is taking a back seat to the more seedy elements of today's popular culture. Most teens and adults are experts in the gossipy news of today. As Black History Month comes to a close, it's time to renew our commitment to real knowledge that matters, across cultural and ethnic divides. A trivia question as a final thought. In 1976, U.S. representative Barbara Jordan became the first African American to give the keynote address to a national party convention. Who gave the keynote address to the Democratic National Convention in 2004? Leave your answer in a comment!
Today, everyone seems to receive their 15 minutes of fame, whether they deserve it or not. Our memories are short, so it's good to be reminded from time to time about true originals who created their own models for success. For this reason alone, the information that circulates during Black History Month is well worth keeping in front of global audiences. Do you know someone who lacks a depth of knowledge about African American contributions? I certainly do, that’s why we all can benefit from the focused stories about black history people during the month long February celebration. I remember taking Asian/African history as an elective while a senior in high school, a course quite rare at the time. Lerone Bennett Jr.'s book, Before the Mayflower, one of the main textbooks in the course, opened up a new world inside of my sixteen year old mind. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is now the first major city in the USA requiring a course in black history as a graduation requirement for all high school students. Here's a not so surprising revelation: some of the teachers in Philly observe that they are learning more than they think they've taught (about significant African American contributions) to their students. The Philadelphia initiative is not without controversy, as debate continues about the value of segmenting black history into a box, at the expense of a multicultural approach. All cultures can benefit from the experiences of others, we just have to respect what others bring to the table too. Expanding our approach to consuming black history breaks apart what I call the one dimensional mold - that of viewing the center of past African American history as just social crusades by select individuals against discrimination. So how do you soak in more stimulating ideas from diverse history makers while relaxing stress free at the same time? How do most people do it? How do you do it? For some, it's reading. For others, it's listening, For most, it's watching - because all of our senses are activated when the visual eye is in the lead. Subscribe to our YouTube Channel, and watch the yearly Black History Month videos we have posted to the home page at BlackHistoryPeople.com.
Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., Coretta Scott King, Sojourner Truth: instantly recognizable personalities when you think about contributions from important black Americans. Robert S. Abbott, Jill Brown, and Ernie Davis were on the front lines too - but they may not immediately come to mind. How do you mix the famous, the familiar, and the forgotten when talking about brilliant pioneers during Black History Month, so the event stays fresh? Black history month activities always seem to revolve around the same circle of noteworthy people. Nothing is the matter with this, except the danger of potential boredom or apathy from non-history fans. The February tribute comes around each year, so creative ways have to be used to keep it relevant in contemporary times of social advancement across the races. When Dr. Carter G. Woodson created Negro History Week in 1926, he chose the second week of February between the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. In 1976, Black History Month was born. A laundry list of first achievers gets stale as a pure informational exercise, yet there's always new discovery going on for the uninformed. Lectures, articles, and books can bridge the gap. But what are the other options? One of the best ways to introduce Black History Month material is in the form of a quiz or trivia. Mixing topics with a broad range of interest from beginner to advanced will keep the trivia fun and interesting benefiting a wide range of readers. Subject material from the centuries of Richard Allen, Marion Anderson, Oprah Winfrey, and other African Americans will grab the attention of different age groups. The Internet lends itself to interactive participation when it comes to quizzes. Players can provide feedback to rate the various questions. Quiz participants can get the answers to questions right away. Contenders can listen to audio hints with background information about the questions. Reading a static article is one thing, but interacting with the same material in several dimensions is dynamic. Black History Month Quiz and trivia challenges offer this magic element. We love traditions, so I'd expect that Black History Month will be around for another 100 years, whether the need for it remains relevant or not. As an institution, this February event will have to keep reinventing itself in new and creative ways to conquer our society's short attention span for inspiring historical information.
Here are the thoughts of student Tevyn C., of Maybee, Michigan, USA, called "School Me." ---------- "I am an honor roll student who spends my spare time studying and teaching black history. It’s more than just a hobby, it’s my passion and calling. In social studies, we are taught that black people were slaves. I know African Americans were more than that, but I didn’t write the lesson plan. I wondered how I could get my peers to realize that much of what they use every day was invented by African Americans. It bothers me that my peers know every athlete and rapper’s name, but know little about our amazing achievements in science, math, and engineering. When I noticed that teens dress like rap artists, an idea came to me: I imagined a creative, hip way to teach others about African American ingenuity. I created an educational urban-style line of apparel named School Me: Clothing With A Little Knowledge. I embellish jeans and tees with embroidered pictures of familiar items like traffic lights, potato chips, blue mailboxes, super soakers, peanut-butter sandwiches, spark plugs, pencil sharpeners, etc. Kids read my shirt and say, “School Me?” Then I have the chance to give a quick educational lesson about these African American inventions. People of all ages are amazed by how much information can be learned from just a glance. Everybody pays attention to fashion and I’m the teacher! For three years I have been speaking at local events while sharing my ideas in mini fashion shows. My goal is to dress a celebrity. With the support of the hip hop community, I could reach millions of teens. When others recognize the contributions of African Americans, they will have a better appreciation for my culture. One day I would like to be able to say that I created a trend that diversifies peoples’ options." ---------- A great idea Tevyn. Congratulations for being a leader and taking action. You are moving the legacy of black history people forward. Good luck.