Our View: Honor, celebrate black history in Clark County

Published 9:34 am Wednesday, February 6, 2019

More than 100 years ago, historian Carter G. Woodsen and minister Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. The organization was dedicated to promoting the achievements of black Americans and people of African descent.

In 1926, the group sponsored “National Negro History Week” during the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.

Out of the event grew a nationwide movement to organize celebrations of African-American history. Starting with annual proclamations from mayors across the country, Negro History Week eventually grew into Black History Month.

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

Still, each February is a time to reflect on the accomplishments, influences and contributions of African-Americans on our culture, economy and many other aspects of our society.

This year, Black History Month is also a time to honor, reflect and celebrate.

This year’s theme is Black Migrations, which “emphasizes the movement of people of African descent to new destinations and subsequently to new social realities.”

According to the ASALH, “Beginning in the early decades of the 20th Century, African-American migration patterns included relocation from southern farms to southern cities; from the South to the Northeast, Midwest, and West; from the Caribbean to US cities as well as to migrant labor farms; and the emigration of noted African-Americans to Africa and to European cities, such as Paris and London, after the end of World War I and World War II.

“Such migrations resulted in a more diverse and stratified interracial and intra-racial urban population amid a changing social milieu, such as the rise of the Garvey movement in New York, Detroit, and New Orleans; the emergence of both black industrial workers and black entrepreneurs; the growing number and variety of urban churches and new religions; new music forms like ragtime, blues and jazz; white backlash as in the Red Summer of 1919; the blossoming of visual and literary arts, as in New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago, and Paris in the 1910s and 1920s.”

This theme lends itself to a more in-depth exploration of how African-Americans have influenced the culture of the U.S., and requires smaller communities like ours to think more critically about how African-Americans have impacted our community.

We wish we didn’t need Black History Month to recognize these accomplishments as this is American history, but the reality is we do.

From black-owned businesses, local African-American civic groups and others, The Sun will once again produce a series of features for Black History Month, to honor and recognize how our African-American neighbors have influenced Winchester-Clark County.

If you have a feature to suggest, contact us at news@winchestersun.com or call 859-759-0049.