Black History Month is in the shortest month of the year. Caesar Augustus, thinking that the month in honor of his name was too short, took days from February, short changing what would become Black History Month. In fact, when Black History Month was first celebrated, in February 1926, the month and year my father was born, it was only a week long and was called Negro History Week.
I previously mentioned how my original birth certificate (I was born at the beginning of the Decisive Decade, the 1960s) lists me as a “Negro.” (Elsewhere I mentioned how my maternal grandfather came to America from Barbados by way of Panama – he was working on the Panama Canal – through Ellis Island, and in the Ellis Island records he is listed as “African.” I would wager that a clerk on Ellis Island recorded him as “African” to differentiate him from American born descendants of Africans, that is, “Negros.” This naming, which was probably not claimed by my maternal grandfather, was just one more ploy to divide and conquer Africans in the Diaspora, and the tragedy is how, to this very day, people from the Caribbean look to differentiate themselves from native born Black folk in America. The irony is that Black folk in America bore the brunt, the whips and scorns of American society, and challenged laws that would even deny Black folk from other countries where the slave ships docked their fundamental Constitutional and human rights, and made it easy for them to emigrate to these here United States. In fact, anyone who emigrates to the United States should thank Black folk, because Black folk have always challenged America to live up to her professed ideals to become a “more perfect Union,” and they are beneficiaries of Black folk’s struggles, and triumphs.)
Carter G. Woodson launched “Negro History Week.” He is considered the “father of black history.” He was born in 1875, just 10 years after the Confederate Rebels’ defeat in the Civil War. He was the second Black person to obtain a PhD from Harvard University, in 1912, after W.E.B. DuBois, and he is the only individual whose parents were enslaved in the United States to obtain a PhD.
Carter was one of the first scholars to study the history of the Diaspora, including Black history. He founded The Journal of Negro History in 1916. Speaking of “Negros,” another scholar I mentioned this Black History Month, Rayford W. Logan (1897-1982), preferred the term “Negro” to that of Black,” as did many of his contemporaries. But note DuBois’ The Souls of Black Folk, published in 1903. (Note these Black Scholars, born in the late 1800s, and what they achieved.)
My last book recommendation is from the Father of Black History. His The Mis-Education of the Negro, in effect, states that Negros are being “culturally indoctrinated,” not “educated.” This holds true to this day, but I would add Americans, writ large, are miseducated.
In Truth, our history was not knowing; it was being shielded from the truth. That was the American way.— James Patterson
I hope the books I have recommended this Black History Month will help you find the way to the truth about Black history.
A farewell to Black History Month, 2022.