A Final Note on Black History Month 2017

Author name
Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture

media:document:9a7909ff-cbb9-4c6f-a535-f90dc5239466 As another Black History Month has come and gone, we thought we’d share just a little more with you so that you may continue to learn more about Black history Beyond February.  We hope that you had a chance to attend at least some of the events listed on the Black History Month calendar we shared at the start of the month (and will look forward to your submissions for next year).  Many thanks to all the presenting organizations that provided opportunities for us to deepen our engagement and increase our knowledge.
“The roots of Black History Month go back to 1926 when noted historian, Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950), the son of former slaves, launched the first observance of Negro History Week in February of that year. It is said that he chose February because the month contained the birthday of Abraham Lincoln (the 12th) and the accepted birthday of Frederick Douglass (the 14th). His goal was to bring together historians, business leaders, educators, church leaders, and people from all walks of life in a week-long celebration of the accomplishments of blacks in the United States.
Dr. Woodson dedicated his life to documenting and preserving African American history and culture and is often called the “father of black history.” In 1915, he created the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, now called the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (asalh.org), and founded the Journal of Negro History soon after. What began as Negro History Week in 1926 has been celebrated every year since and eventually became Black History Month in 1976.”  Excerpted from the National Museum of African American History & Culture Newsletter –be sure to get your ticket in advance to check out the museum when next in Washington, DC.

In recognition of this year’s Black History Month theme, The Crisis in Black Education, we wanted to offer you a few resources for your edification and to keep you busy until next year (See Attached Syllabus).  Know that at the Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture we are living Black history everyday and seeking to be collectors, curators and conveyors of Duke's Black history always. 

We invite you to consider how you engage with Black history and culture especially Beyond February.  In light of the theme, we offer the following questions for your further reflection: 

  • What is it that you are doing in your life that represents an acknowledgement of and a concern for Black education?  
  • What does this look like in your child’s school? 
  • What have you done to expand the world and worldview of people in your life that would cause them to have a deeper concern for Black education? 
  • Did you know it was once illegal to teach a Black person to read?  How are we ensuring that all Black children are inspired to read and to reach beyond any present circumstance that might limit the realization of their fullest potential? 

There are a variety of things you might to include everything from prayers to packing backpacks (for weekend meals) to being positively present in the lives of Black children, youth and young adults.  Perhaps, you might also consider the ways in which you may be guilty of ‘opportunity hoarding’ that serves to disadvantage children who do not benefit from having the robust parenting that you provide your own child, nieces, nephews or cousins.  Know that there is more we can all do to halt the crisis.  

Enjoy the selection of readings and films that we have compiled.  If you have not yet seen “I Am Not Your Negro”, be sure to check it out in theatres or on iTunes and stop by, as we’d love to know your thoughts.

Wishing you a wonderful Women’s History Month and saluting our namesake Mary Lou Williams, Pauli Murray, Wilhelmina Ruben Cook, Lisa Borders, Janet Hill, Tiana Horn and Danielle Squires, all of whom among many other amazing Duke affiliated women have made or are making Black history every day.

Team Mary Lou