Black History Moments

Black History is American history and by failing to remember the good and the bad…future generations lose momentum…

Zora Neale Hurston was an anthropologist, author, and bonafide member of the Harlem Renaissance but died penniless and in obscurity. Roughly 30 years after her death, Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple, discovered her writings and a revival of Hurston’s career began and continues today. Hurston’s novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, is one of the most widely read novels in high schools across the U.S. Her writings captured Black life in a unique style and from a feminine perspective. Hurston reminds us that sometimes our contributions won’t get the recognition they deserve, but do them anyways! Someone is going to make sure they are not forgotten!

#BlackHistoryMonth
#GoneButNotForgotten
#ThankYouAliceWalker
#TheirEyesWereWatchingGod

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Black History Moments

Black History is American history and by failing to remember the good and the bad…future generations lose momentum…

Being multifaceted and multi-talented during the era that Lena Horne was born into came with advantages and disadvantages. A natural beauty, Horne could sing, dance, and act but if you look back over her career, she is most noted for her Jazz singing and performances. This is because Hollywood was not ready to feature Black women prominently and Horne refused to do demeaning roles. This made her choices extrememly limited and in some of the films that she did receive parts for, her scenes would be cut out before shown to White audiences. Yet, Horne persisted and resisted. She was a very prominent Civil Rights activists working with Paul Robeson, Malcom X and she supported Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Her associations also contributed to her challenges with Hollywood and mainstream television but she was determined to fight for equality and rights for Black people. Lena Horne’s career spanned 70 years and she died at the age of 92 in 2010. When we think of the Hollywood greats or TV personalities, Lena Horne’s name probably won’t come to mind but it should. For every success we see today, there was someone just as gifted if not even more talented who came before them to pave the way.

#BlackHistoryMonth
#LenaHorne
#BlackandBeautiful
#ShePersisted
#SomeoneWasDeniedForYouToAchieve

Black History Moments

Black History is American history and by failing to remember the good and the bad…future generations lose momentum.

This statue of Frederick Douglass is on the campus of the University of Maryland and is a great depiction of the fiery orator that Douglass became during his time as an abolitionist. Douglass, who escaped from slavery in Maryland is one of the greatest voices of America. During the 19th century, no person was photographed more than Douglass. People marvelled at his speaking and intellectual abilities-some even refusing to believe he had once been a slave. Douglass spoke with power and conviction that all men were created equal and that slavery was the vilest institution imaginable. Douglass wrote and published his own autobiography about his experiences as a slave. He was nominated for Vice President of the United States, he counseled several presidents and spoke passionately after slavery was abolished about equality for the newly freed men, women and children. Douglass is testament to resilience. What you are born into, does not mean you have to stay there. You can determine your own destiny.

#BlackHistoryMonth
#BlackExcellence
#FrederickDouglass
#HowYouStartIsNotHowYouHaveToFinish

Black History Moments

Black History is American history and by failing to remember the good and the bad…future generations lose momentum.

Because I personally know and have worked with this amazing woman, I can vouch for how incredible her story is. Becoming the first Black rabbi in mainstream Judaism is no easy task. The education experience alone included studies in Jerusalem, learning the Hebrew language as well as enduring all of the personal challenges of merging Blackness, her Pentecostal roots and Judaism. Rabbi received hate mail, death threats, and endured much opposition against herself and her daughter but she persisted. Rabbi Stanton’s journey is truly incredible and inspiring. She was honored at the White House by President Barack Obama at his inaugural Jewish American Heritage month in 2010. She continues to spread hope and encouragement through her travels and rabbinic duties.

#BlackHistoryMonth
#ShePersisted
#ShareHerStory
#RabbiAlysaStanton
#Hope

Black History Moments

Black History is American history and by failing to remember the good and the bad…future generations lose momentum.

When Shirley Jackson arrived at MIT in the mid 60’s, she was one of only a few Black students on campus. She noticed a group of White girls working on physics problems and asked to join them. One of the girls responded, “go away.” Jackson said when the group rejected her she went back to her dorm room, cried, got herself together and finished her homework alone. Her 9 years at MIT would be isolating but successful. Dr. Jackson became the first Black woman to receive a PhD from MIT in any field and the 2nd woman in the US to earn a PhD in Physics. While at MIT, Dr. Jackson helped organize the first Black Student Union on campus where they drafted proposals to encourage recruitment of more Black students. During her graduate work, Dr. Jackson traveled the Midwest on behalf of the University to recruit minority students. It was MITs first minority recruitment program ever. One year later 57 Black freshmen enrolled at MIT. To help the freshmen succeed, Dr. Jackson started a summer program to provide them academic support realizing many of them were the first to attend college in their families. More than 2,000 students have participated in the program since its inception. Dr. Jackson left MIT after getting her PhD and worked in business, and for the government, serving Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. She is currently the first female and first Black president of Rensselar Polytechnic Institute where she was charged with transforming the school into a worldclass research and tech university. Faced with heavy opposition including an attempt to get her fired, Dr. Jackson persevered and is in her 19th year as the university’s president. She is also the highest paid president among private university presidents in the nation. Dr. Jackson reminds us that rejection is a part of the journey. What we do with it determines our legacy.

#BlackHistoryMonth
#DrShirleyJackson
#LivingLegend
#BlackGirlsDoSTEM
#RejectedToBeResurrected

Black History Moments

Black History is American history and by failing to remember the good and the bad…future generations lose momentum.

Today’s Black History Moment is very personal because it is my own Black History Moment. Today, I honor my grandfather, Tim Melvin, born today, Feb 14, 1906 in Sampson County, North Carolina. Tim Melvin had no formal education and still became a successful businessman, employing both Black and White people, owning and operating a 100-acre farm, country store, and a saw/timber mill. He was generous, talkative, and extremely intelligent in spite of not being able to write his own name. For years I would hear strangers talking to my grandmother, dad or aunts and uncles and sharing with them stories about “Mr. Tim.” Grandaddy died in May, 1977, but by passing his entrepreneurship, generosity, love of family, and physical traits through the faces of his grand, great-grand and great-great grandchildren, Tim Melvin lives on.

#BlackHistoryMonth
#MrTim
#LocalLegend
#LegacyBuilder
#HappyBirthdayGranddaddy

Black History Moment

Black History is American history and by failing to remember the good and the bad, future generations lose momentum…

Carter G. Woodson wrote, “If you can make a man believe that he is inferior, you don’t have to compel him to seek an inferior status, he will do so without being told and if you can make a man believe that he is justly an outcast, you don’t have to order him to the back door, he will go to the back door on his own and if there is no back door, the very nature of the man will demand that you build one.” Perhaps this is why Dr. Woodson worked so tirelessly to try to eliminate the notion that Black people were an inferior group of people. As an extremely educated man (he was the 2nd Black person to get a PhD from Harvard), Woodson realized that academic institutions, particularly history departments had left out any and all achievements of Black Americans and Africans. On top of these glaring ommissions, 19th century race theory was extremely popular and the theories claimed that there was scientific evidence that Black people were inferior, less intelligent and less capable than Whites. As a historian, Dr. Woodson, determined to undo these false and unsupported ideas about Black people. One of his contributions was to start a “Negro History Week” which is now celebrated as Black History Month during February. Dr. Woodson found his niche as an historian and sought to rewrite the inaccuracies, conspiracies, and lies that he encountered. In your profession, what untruths have you experienced? How will you help dismantle them for future generations? Dr. Woodson reminds us that if we don’t like what we see or hear, we can use our resources, talents, and abilities to do something about it.

#BlackHistoryMonth
#DoGood
#CarterGWoodson
#ReWriteHistory
#InferiorityKillsStealsDestroys
#BlackHistoryIsAmericanHistory

Black History Moments

Black History is American history and by failing to remember the good and the bad, future generations lose momentum…

24 years is a short life but Ms. Alice Ball made the most of them becoming the 1st Black person and woman to receive a Master’s degree in Chemistry from the University of Hawaii and the 1st Black person and woman to become a Chemistry professor at Hawaii. Yet, Ms. Ball’s greatest accomplishmemt was hidden from the world for over 80 years. Ms. Ball developed an injection method that leprosy patients could take to help their healing process. The method was so successful people began calling it the “Ball method.” At that time if someone was diagnosed with leprosy, they were arrested, taken from their homes and sent to Hawaii to live at an institution. The Ball method allowed patients to administer treatment from home and until the 1940s Alice Ball’s invention helped over 8000 leprosy patients. Yet Ms. Ball did not live to see the fruit of her labor. While still writing her research paper on her methodology, she became sick and died. The chemist that she worked for stole her research and renamed it after himself calling it the “Dean” method. Mr. Dean also happened to be the president of the Univ. Of Hawaii. It wasn’t until a doctor at the leprosy hospital called him out that people began to trace back the injections to Alice Ball. Ball, who died in 1916 at the age of 24 was finally recognized by the University of Hawaii for her ground-breaking work 84 years after her death in 2000. Ms. Ball who was born around the same time as Marie Curie and Albert Einstein had the potential to be one of the greatest scientists the world had ever known had she not died so early in life. We salute Alice Ball and all the many Black men and women who had their stories and ideas stolen, copied, misrepresented, and replaced. Alice Ball died with little recognition, but we say her name today so future generations will never forget the foundation that people like her has provided for them.

#BlackHistoryMonth
#AliceBall
#SayHerName
#GreatnessCantBeHiddenForever
#BlackChemistsRock

Black History Moments

Black History is American history and by failing to remember the good and the bad, future generations lose momentum…

“If the man may preach, because the Savior died for him, why not the woman, seeing he died for her also? Is he not a whole Savior, instead of half of one?” These are the words of Jarena Lee when questioned as to why she was attempting to preach the Gospel as a woman. Apparently, she never received a response that satisfied her and went on to preach as an evangelist up until her death. Born on this day, Feb 11, in 1783, Jarena Lee did not receive spiritual guidance from her parents but through self discovery she developed her own relationship with Jesus and it eventually led her to preaching after she heard a voice instructing her to preach the Gospel. Jarena Lee tried consulting several male preachers including Richard Allen in Philadelphia who had created the first Black denominational church, the A.M.E. church but he explained to her there was no way for a woman to preach in the A.M.E. Undeterred, Jarena decided to preach as an evangelist and travelled thousands of miles on foot preaching during her lifetime. Evangelist Jarena’s most significant contribution is her autobiography that she published, producing 1000 copies and they sold so well that she published a 2nd edition. Her autobiography, The Life and Religious Experience of Jarena Lee, is the first autobiography written by a Black woman published in the United States. Evangelist Lee, preached to Black and White crowds, slave owners, slaves, and freed men and women and although people never stopped questioning her as to whether she should preach, this did not stop her from doing what she believed she was called to do. Evangelist Lee is a reminder that once God says it, there is nothing anyone can do to stop it. Salute to Evangelist Jarena Lee for keeping her eye on the prize!

#BlackHistoryMonth
#PreachBlackWomanPreach
#GodSaidItSheDidIt
#ShePersisted
#BeLikeJarena

Black History Moments

Black history is American history and by failing to remember the good and the bad, future generations lose momentum…

Mr. Robert Robinson Taylor’s name may not ring a bell, but the impact of his life is being felt in universities throughout the south. Born in Wilmington, NC in 1868, Taylor was the first accredited Black architecture and the first Black graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT, in 1888. As an architect, Taylor designed many of the buildings at Tuskegee University prior to 1932. In addition, he designed buildings for Livingstone College in North Carolina and Selma University in Selma, Alabama. He also was vice president of Tuskegee and worked very closely with Booker T. Washington who had been something of a mentor to him since his days at MIT. Upon his retirement in 1932, he returned to his native Wilmington, NC. He was appointed as a board of trustee to what is now known as Fayetteville State University. In 1942, he died while visiting Tuskegee and is buried in NC. He is also the great grandfather of Valerie Jarrett who was a Senior Adviser to President Barack Obama. From MIT grad, architecture, university vice president and board of trustee, Mr. Taylor, as my father would say, “died empty” reminding all of us to do as much good as you can, while you can, and when you can!

#BlackHistoryMonth
#MITMan
#BlackExcellence
#DoGood
#DieEmpty