As part of our mission to eradicate racism and build a regional movement toward racial justice and collective liberation, E3 will be building out this section in the coming year. We're starting by sharing our Black History Month posts here and will continue to add resources in the coming months.
Did you know BHM began in 1915?
BHM DAY OF ACTION
Did you know that BHM is credited to Dr. Carter G. Woodson? "In February 1926, Woodson sent out a press release announcing the first Negro History Week.
He chose February because the month contained the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, two prominent men whose historic achievements African Americans already celebrated. (Lincoln’s birthday was February 12; Douglass, who was formerly enslaved, hadn’t known his actual birthday, but had marked the occasion on February 14.)"
One prominent figure in the history of America is Dr. Benjamin Banneker. Benjamin Banneker was a largely self-educated mathematician, astronomer, compiler of almanacs and writer.
Dr. Banneker (1731-1806) assisted in the surveying of territory for the construction of the nation's capital. He exchanged letters with Thomas Jefferson, (then Secretary of State) politely challenging him to do what he could to ensure racial equality. In his letter he "chided Jefferson and other patriots for their hypocrisy, enslaving people like him while fighting the British for their own independence." Click here for the source and to learn more.
Hattiesburg, Mississippi, during Freedom Summer 1964. Alice Adams (right) is the only one identified in the photograph. Photo Cred.
Education has always been fundamental to creating a more vibrant, inclusive and democratic community. We have so many unsung heroes in the struggle for civil rights, many of whom have been the children themselves.
"In the spring of 1964, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee created the Freedom School curriculum, which was rooted in the lives of young Black Mississippians. It had been designed by a committee of educators from around the country. Broken up into two parts–the “Citizenship Curriculum” and the “Guide to Negro History”–the curriculum was designed to help students examine their personal experiences with racial discrimination and understand their broader context in Mississippi’s closed society.
For Black Mississippians, the schools were the first time they had been encouraged to think and act politically, and to explore their creative impulses."
Today's post is a video that makes us aware of some of the many, many, many contributions Black people have made that we benefit from every day. This is not to minimize the larger impact of enslavement and exploitation of Black people as it connects on each day of life in the US. It is to raise awareness of how these contributions, and so many more in all areas of our lives, are not commonly known or shared: Click on the link or read on to learn what this video highlights:
Lewis Howard Latimer - longer lasting lightbulb
Marie van Brittan Brown - home security system
Alice H. Parker - gas central heating system
George T. Sampson - automatic clothes dryer
Sarah Boone - ironing board
George Washington Carver - peanut experiments contributing to today's peanut butter
George Speck - potato chips
Philip Downing - mail boxes
F.W. Leslie - envelope seal
Garrett Morgan - three-way traffic lights
As we honor Black History Month we acknowledge that history is always in the making. The "Who We Are" project chronicles racism in our country with the goals of:
* EXPOSE the role of anti-Black racism and white supremacy throughout history up to the present,
* ACTIVATE Americans to learn and share this history, and
*INSPIRE the next generation of citizen-historians, truth seekers and activists.
The effort is led by racial justice activist, Jeffrey Robinson who has spent recent years lecturing on the topic around the country. His film, "Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America," provides viewers with a direct challenge to the dominant narrative of our nation's founding. To find out more, including how to view this important film, click below.
Since 1976, when US President Gerald Ford officially recognized February as BHM, each president has endorsed a theme for the month. 2023's theme is “Black Resistance*,” and explores how "African Americans have resisted historic and ongoing oppression, in all forms, especially the racial terrorism of lynching, racial pogroms and police killings," since the nation's earliest days.
*The theme was selected by ASALH (Association for the Study of African American Life and History)
The Southern Poverty Law Center offered this observation after surveying U.S. high school seniors & social studies teachers, and analyzing 10 US History books commonly used in our schools:
* High school seniors struggle on even the most basic questions about American enslavement of Africans.
* Teachers who are serious about teaching slavery struggle to provide deep coverage of the subject in the classroom.
* Popular textbooks fail to comprehensively cover slavery and enslaved peoples.
* State content standards are timid and fail to set appropriately high expectations.
Click here for SPLC and learn more AND be sure to take their 6 question quiz to test your own knowledge! For a deeper dive, click on "Teaching Hard History" and read the full report.
This post comes from E3 Council member, Chris Stone: "The first time I cried while listening to music, I was 12 years old. This particular song resonated in my soul, it really moved me! What makes it so incredibly profound is that I would never play the song off of this Stevie Wonder album. This album was released in 1976 and the album was named Songs in the Key of Life. The song was named Black Man. This was a double LP or album that was full of hit songs. You had to turn the vinyl record over to hear the music on the other side.
One day I finally played side two or the B side of the second record. I was blown away by the music but I was not prepared for the lyrical content. It was a musical black history lesson. It grabbed me in so many ways, I played the song repeatedly! It is my hope that everyone that everyone that reads this post listens to this wonderful album but start with “Black Man.”
By the way the second time I cried while listening to music was another Stevie Wonder song. That song was “Happy Birthday” off the “Hotter Than July” LP
Most of us know Nashville's relationship to Country Music, but far before the Grand Ol' Opry, a group of Black singers put Nashville on the map! Fisk University (earlier known as Fisk Free Colored School) opened in 1866 and served formerly enslaved people. It stand today as the oldest institute for higher learning in Nashville. Shortly after opening it needed to raise funds so in 1871 their choir, The Fisk Jubilee Singers, set out on tour to raise the needed funds.
In addition to raising money, they raised awareness about Fisk, and introduced the larger world (including the President, the Queen, and dignitaries all over the world) to the power of the Negro Spiritual. This did not come without great cost to the original band members. The tour schedule, racism, and rigors of traveling, particularly as black people in a racist country took a toll and none went on to receive their diplomas. Learn more about this group here. (appreciation to Rhiannon Giddens for the original post)
Zora Neale Hurston is now recognized one of America’s great authors whose work opened doors for writers like Toni Morrison and Alice Walker. An anthropologist, and daughter of parents who had been enslaved, her writing, including short stories, novels, and plays, often examined black folklore, and in particular, Black life in the South. A participant in the black cultural renaissance in Harlem, along with Langston Hughes and other leading writers, Hurston "broke literary norms by focusing her work on the experience of a black woman"* in her book Their Eyes Were Watching God.
*Arlisha R. Norwood, Zora Neale Hurston (womenshistory.org)
Many of us know the story of Rosa Parks but did you know about Claudette Colvin? Nine months before Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white woman, Claudette Colvin did the same. She was 15 years old.
Colvin was later arrested; violating the city’s segregation laws was among the many charges leveled against her. Colvin later told Newsweek, “I felt like Sojourner Truth was pushing down on one shoulder, and Harriet Tubman was pushing down on the other—saying, 'Sit down girl!' I was glued to my seat.”
At a time when many school boards are facing criticism for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging resolutions, book banning efforts, and critiques of our full history, it may be inspirational to take a look back at the first African American woman to be appointed to a school board in the US.
Terrell was a civil rights activist and a suffragist, first president of the National Association of Colored Women, a charter member of the NAACP, the first black woman appointed to the District of Columbia Board of Education and the American Association of University Women. You can learn more about Mary Terrell's life through her own words: Click here for a link to a Black-owned bookstores where you can order Mary Terrell's A Colored Woman in a White World.
"In 1864, Rebecca Lee Crumpler, M.D. defied odds by becoming the first Black woman doctor of medicine. To put this in perspective, this is only two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued by then-President Abraham Lincoln. There were still enslaved people in America, many of whom were subjects of gruesome medical experiments and tests to which they could not consent because they were seen as property."
"Shortly after the Civil War’s end, Crumpler, a free born woman, went to Richmond, VA to provide medical care for formerly enslaved people. She often faced discrimination from her colleagues and pharmacies but kept her focus on helping women and children. She later moved back to Boston and treated patients with little focus on their ability to pay. In 2019, Virginia governor Ralph Northam made March 30 Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler Day."
Ethel Payne, known as the First Lady of the Black Press, was second Black woman to be a member of the White House Press Corps and the first to be regularly recognized by a sitting president. In her position, Payne held presidents accountable, writing about the gap between promises (e.g. integrate the military) and the reality (e.g. General McCarthy refused to do so). She wrote about the lived experience of Black soldiers, the racial slurs they endured, and took on subjects few would touch.
Payne used her increasing power to bring the Black experience to the front page of the country's attention. She wrote for Chicago's Defender, earning her a deep following in the Black community as she covered the Civil Rights Movement. And her increasing power and call to accountability was met with overt racism by President Eisenhower who refused to call upon her for the remainder of his presidency. For more on Ethel L. Payne, click here.
We cannot engage with Black History without acknowledging the layers of complexity. Hattie McDaniel lived through such layers when she became the first Black person to win an Oscar. She won the award for her portrayal as "Mammy" in Gone with the Wind. The film itself was boycotted widely, and increasingly criticized with passing years, because of racist stereotyping and dialogue.
Additionally, as a Black person, McDaniel was not permitted to attend the opening of the show in Atlanta. During the award assembly itself, her seat was in the segregated table in the rear of the venue (Ambassador Hotel's Coconut Grove restaurant.) rather than with her fellow, white, cast members.
Black artists have contributed to the richness of our lives for since time began, yet many of us never hear about them. Here's a look at Horace Pippin (1888-1946)
. This self-taught artist served in the US Army's 369th Infantry Regiment, an all-black unit deployed to France in WWII. Upon returning, he took to painting cigar boxes and experimenting with other media, including oils, and wood burning. "He painted a wide range of subjects, from African American genre scenes, portraits, and biblical scenes, to politically charged historical paintings such as John Brown Going to His Hanging (1942, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts) and allegories such as Prejudice (1943, Philadelphia Museum of Art). His modern folk art style defies classification." (National Gallery of Art)
Flemmie Pansy Kittrell was the first African American woman to earn a Ph.D. from Cornell, and a Ph.D. in nutrition from any institution. Her work focused on nutrition in small towns and rural areas with large numbers of low-income and minority families. Her research on malnutrition in this country and Liberia helped change agricultural processes.
It was through her leadership that Howard University became known for its leadership in the areas of nutrition and child development. Kittrell created world-wide attention on the impact of malnutrition on child development and was instrumental in creating the Head Start program in the 1960s. She received the Scroll of Honor from the National Council of Negro Women in 1961.
Deborah A. Batts, the first openly gay judge to sit on the federal bench, was also the judge who presided over the Central Park Five civil case, helping deliver long overdue justice to the five young men unjustly convicted of a violent crime. Judge Batts “literally broke down the closet door and allowed the rest of us to walk through it.” (Federal Judge Pamela Chen, an LGBTQ colleague)
Judge Batts was also the first African American faculty member at Fordham Law School.
For more information on Judge Batts, and other important black women in history, check out "I See You Queen in History" where, host, Mercedes Lee, notes "If we never see it, how are we supposed to be it?"
Here's a story taken from a post by John Mills:
"Preserved Porter, a CT bone doctor enslaved Fortune and his family. In 1798, Fortune slipped from a rock by the river, broke his neck and drowned. At the time, dissecting cadavers was illegal; but the enslaved were an exception. Dr. Porter cut him into pieces at the riverbank, boiled the bones, etched labels on them and used them to teach anatomy to his son; who used them to teach anatomy to his grandson; who used them to teach his daughter…135 years of generational doctors and wealth. In 1933, his name long forgotten, the family donated the bones to a museum where they were used as part of an exhibit and titled “Larry the Slave” until 1970 when they were placed in the basement. In 1999 the NAACP working with museum and experts, came to realize this was the skeleton of Fortune.
On Sept. 13th, 2013, Fortune was finally freed and laid to rest. John Mills, highlighted this story, reminding us all that "This is not an isolated story. Medical usage of Black and Indigenous people in ways prohibited of Whites was not uncommon." Check out tomorrow's post to see how Mills acted to honor Fortune and BHM.
Black History Month may be coming to a close but Black History has been happening since time began and will never end. Check out this young Black woman making history today! Mari Copeny became an activist in response to the water crisis in her own community of Flint, MI. Mari, also known as "Little Miss Flint," is credited with getting President Obama to visit Flint and take action. She has now taken on the larger landscape of access to & protection of our clean water supplies nationally. Here's what this young Black leader has to say about our collective future & the role of young activists: “My generation will fix this mess of a government. Watch us.” Click here to learn more about Mari including ways to join her in the work and to support her activism!
BHM DAY OF ACTION
Each week of BHM E3 will be highlightng an aspect of our work serving the community and we hope you'll choose to participate!
This week we invite you to consider a donation to E3's Dream Scholarship Fund. Through your donations last year we were able to gift two students each $1,000 toward school expenses. We will be sharing our application process soon as we're committed to doing this every year. The scholarships will be awarded at our Juneteenth event. How to donate? Simple, click here!
BHM DAY OF ACTION
Today's call to action is to contribute to E3's Library Fund!Here's a look at some of the books we'll be delivering next week!
Through fund raising and the generosity of many of our local businesses, we're nearly halfway to gift each of the school's libraries! Donate today and help us complete this project!
BHM DAY OF ACTION
Join the ever-growing community of anti-racists, locally and nationally by signing up for Understanding Racial Justice (URJ). THis 5-week program is for white people leaning into the racial justice movement. The program is sponsored by Titletrack and We the People Michigan. Join the virtual or in-person cohorts as the action you can take in our collective quest for racial justice!
Our first virtual cohort of 2023 will meet via zoom for 5 weeks, meeting on Tuesday evenings from 5:30pm – 7:30pm ET from March 7 – April 4. Registration is open for anyone living in the United States. Chris Good and Wendy von Courter will be co-facilitating this cohort.
Our next in-person cohort will meet in Traverse City (location TBA) on Tuesday afternoons from 12:00 – 2:00pm from April 25 – May 3. Lucy Waechter Webb and Tess Waechter Smith will be co-facilitating this cohort.
Sliding scale and scholarships are available. To learn more about this five week course and/or registger, click here!
BHM DAY OF ACTION
Today's day of action is part II of yesterday's post. In that post we learned about Fortune, an enslaved person who's freedom waited nearly 275 years. Fortune died while enslaved and his bones were then used for educational purposes and then in a demeaning exhibut in a museum until 1970. He was finally laid to rest in a cemetery in which he would not have been allowed in his lifetime. John Mills, highlighted the story, reminding us that BIPOC bodies were abused during life and death. He models actions we might take to correct injustices, offer dignity, and contribute to truth and reconciliation. Here are his words: "Since I still can't find my GG Grandfather (Ned Mills), Erica and I decided to make a donation to the Assoc for the Study of African American Life & History, as well as to make a regular pilgrimage here to leave flowers for Fortune.
Black History is American History and Black Lives Matter. If not to you, I got this. My actions will show they always have and still do…no statute of limitations. Now rest, Fortune."
BHM DAY OF ACTION
"If you’re looking for a way to celebrate Black History all year long, vote with your wallet or cultivate a more informed and relevant understanding of how health intersects with race in our culture (or, better yet, all all three!), filling out your bookshelf and your to-read pile with books by Black authors who are experts on the subject is the logical first step." ~ Shay Stewart-Bouley
Here's the link Shay Stewart-Bouley recommends so we can vote with our wallet! 12 Powerful Books that Center Black Women's Health
Also, follow Shay! (Anti-Racism Speaker/Perspectives on Race/Diversity Education - Blogging on Facebook and her website as blackgirlinmaine