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Recognizing Black Excellence Throughout The Year

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Recognizing Black Excellence Throughout The Year
Recognizing Black Excellence Throughout The Year

National Black Month, celebrated throughout February, has received official recognition in Canada and the United States. However, there is widespread acceptance of this Month across the UK, Ireland, and the Netherlands as well. Keeping that in mind, it is now time to reveal the unique history behind it.

Black History Month serves as a powerful testament to the resilience, achievements, and contributions of the Black community throughout history.

National Black History Month started as a remembrance for the people in the history of the African ethnicity. Today, it marks one of the most important months for remembrance, recognition, and education.

Education is at the core of National Black History Month, and it’s a great way for people from all walks of life to gain an understanding of the rich culture.

Some people say that National Black History Month was earlier celebrated as “Negro History Week.” This was created by historian Carter G. Woodson in 1926, celebrated alongside the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. However, its inspiration goes back even further than that.

During the summer of 1915, Woodson traveled with his friends from his hometown of Chicago to Washington and celebrated the 50th anniversary of the emancipation of black people. At that time, there were a few of many thousands of black people who traveled across the country that summer. They came together to celebrate the progress that had been made since the destruction of slavery.

Top Black Artists To Know

Ready to deepen your knowledge of Black Culture and History? Let’s explore the connection of some of the popular Black artists and their work.

Alma Thomas & Sylvia Snowden

While these two artists were born 50 years apart, Alma and Sylvia were both drawn to capture abstraction in their art. Decades apart, they both also moved to the nation’s capital as kids and then studied art at Howard University.

Glenn Ligon and Dread Scott

The works of these two artists focus on Black sanitation workers in Memphis. During the strike in 1988, Ligon’s painting harnessed the power of the words “I am a Man.” The words are a variant of “I am an invisible man,” the first line of the prologue in Ralph Ellison’s book. Also, he changed the structure, size, and spacing of the text to fit the modern context.

Another twenty years later, Scott also wore a sign that read – “I AM NOT A MAN” while walking around Harlem. He was dressed in an outfit from the Civil Rights era. The unique thing Scott added was the word ‘not’, questioning whether a Black man’s status in society had changed in 40 years.

Sam Gilliam and Stanley Whitney

Color is the key force behind the abstract nature of the art by both Sam Gilliam and Stanley Whitney. The former made a name for himself in the 1960s with innovative painting. He also became the first artist in residence at Philadelphia’s Brandywine Workshop. Fast forward 4 years, Whitney made this untitled screenprint during his residency in Brandywine. Both prints share a vibrant palette, showing how unique each artist’s approach is!

Betye Saar and Alison Saar

Among all the artists listed in this blog, these are the two that share the closest connection because they are mother and daughter. Since 1969, Betye Saar has made sculptures that explore race, gender, ancestry, and spirituality. The work in making Trickster is a seven-foot-tall antique heater with a necklace of bells, chains, and vintage keys, remaining one of the best sculptures in the world.

Just like her mother, Alison Saar also worked in a variety of mediums and explored similar themes. The central theme for her work has been women. In one of her works, titled Black Snake Blues, she drew inspiration from a 1927 song by Victoria Spivey. In her lyrics, she described a snake that led her away from her path.

Other Important Dates To Remember

1619 – Journal entry records the delivery of slaves to Virginia

It’s not the first appearance of African slaves in America, but it still plays a critical role in Black History.

1831 – Nat Turner leads a slave revolt

One of the most effective slave revolts in American history was led by Nat Turner in Southampton County, Virginia. A group of around 75 Black people rebelled against their white slave owners.

1863 – Lincoln enacts the Emancipation Proclamation

It was during the third year of the Civil War when US President Abraham Lincoln declared that enslaved people shall be “forever free.” The war continued for another two years, but in the end, the proclamation came true.

1926 – Negro History Week Is Observed

In American History, Carter G. Woodson is determined to bring African American History to the forefront. He also begins with Negro History Week in the same year.

1976 – First National Black History Month Is Observed

Lastly, in alignment with the US 200th birthday, President Gerald Ford encouraged all Americans to pay homage and treat every Black American with honor. Since then, each US president has issued proclamations regarding National Black History Month.

How To Get Involved

As we come to the end of this blog, one great way to get yourself involved and connected during National Black History Month is to show your support for black non-profit organizations. Examples include SisterLove, Black Girls Code, Black Lives Matter, and Black PAC, among many more.

You can also check with the local chapters of one of these organizations and explore ways to possibly get involved through volunteering, lending a voice, or making a donation.

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