Black History Month

 

The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture. It was established by Act of Congress in 2003, following decades of efforts to promote and highlight the contributions of African Americans. To date, the Museum has collected more than 36,000 artifacts and nearly 100,000 individuals have become charter members. The Museum opened to the public on September 24, 2016, as the 19th and newest museum of the Smithsonian Institution.

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Black History

In the New York City Democratic mayoral primary race against Ed Koch, David Dinkins was always the underdog. Without the support of the city’s powerful political establishment, Borough President Dinkins of Manhattan ran a steady and flawless campaign by strengthening his weaknesses, reaching out to all constituents and exploiting the missteps of the Koch administration.

Starting from the beginning of the campaign, I put much effort into gaining the trust of the candidate and his staff so as to obtain access to private moments. As a result, I was the only media photographer allowed to witness Mr. Dinkins at the crucial moment when the final primary results were tallied and Mayor Koch conceded.

Having observed that his personal style was more cerebral than emotional, I wasn’t at all surprised to watch his family resonate with the emotion of victory, even as Mr. Dinkins sat calmly in his campaign hotel room on a sofa amid his excited wife, daughter and son and their families.

Seemingly underwhelmed by his victory, Mr. Dinkins showed his characteristic calm, much like deep water.

Black History

Inoculation was introduced to America by a slave.

Few details are known about the birth of Onesimus, but it is assumed he was born in Africa in the late seventeenth century before eventually landing in Boston. One of a thousand people of African descent living in the Massachusetts colony, Onesimus was a gift to the Puritan church minister Cotton Mather from his congregation in 1706.

Onesimus told Mather about the centuries old tradition of inoculation practiced in Africa. By extracting the material from an infected person and scratching it into the skin of an uninfected person, you could deliberately introduce smallpox to the healthy individual making them immune. Considered extremely dangerous at the time, Cotton Mather convinced Dr. Zabdiel Boylston to experiment with the procedure when a smallpox epidemic hit Boston in 1721 and over 240 people were inoculated. Opposed politically, religiously and medically in the United States and abroad, public reaction to the experiment put Mather and Boylston’s lives in danger despite records indicating that only 2% of patients requesting inoculation died compared to the 15% of people not inoculated who contracted smallpox.

Onesimus’ traditional African practice was used to inoculate American soldiers during the Revolutionary War and introduced the concept of inoculation to the United States.

ORIGINS OF BLACK HISTORY MONTH

The story of Black History Month begins in 1915, half a century after the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in the United States.

That September, the Harvard-trained historian Carter G. Woodson and the prominent minister Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), an organization dedicated to researching and promoting achievements by black Americans and other peoples of African descent.

Known today as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), the group sponsored a national Negro History week in 1926, choosing the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The event inspired schools and communities nationwide to organize local celebrations, establish history clubs and host performances and lectures.

In the decades that followed, mayors of cities across the country began issuing yearly proclamations recognizing Negro History Week. By the late 1960s, thanks in part to the civil rights movement and a growing awareness of black identity, Negro History Week had evolved into Black History Month on many college campuses.

President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976, calling upon the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

Since 1976, every American president has designated February as Black History Month and endorsed a specific theme.

The Black History Month 2018 theme, “African Americans in Times of War,” marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I and honors the roles that black Americans have played in warfare, from the American Revolution to the present day.

Black History

Dr. Crumpler was the first African-American woman physician in the United States. Born in 1831, Dr. Crumpler first worked as a nurse in Massachusetts between 1852 and 1860, PBS reports. She was accepted to New England Female Medical College and earned an M.D. in 1864, according to Time. She practiced medicine in Boston and Richmond, Virginia, primarily working with the poor, who had limited access to medical care. In 1883, Dr. Crumpler published a renowned book, Book of Medical Discourses In Two Parts, which many believe is the first medical text written by an African-American author, PBS states.