I have argued for many years now that the worst crime that we can commit is to teach our children that our history began with slavery. And yet, this is what many of us do in the Black communities of the Western Hemisphere. When Black History Month rolls around, we tend to celebrate the great heroes and sheroes who emerged after we were taken from Africa to the Americas. In the United States, we love Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass and Langston Hughes and Rosa Parks, and rightfully so. We might even talk Toussaint L’Ouverture and Jean-Jacques Dessalines of Haiti, and perhaps even Zumbi dos Palmares in Brazil. Continue reading Before Enslavement: Africa’s Ancient Diaspora
Lena Horne (1917-2010)
Horne became a part of the Civil Rights Movement and performed at rallies on behalf of the NAACP and the National Council for Negro Women, and she participated in the March on Washington in 1963.
Fred Hampton (1948-1969)
Hampton was a Black activist and deputy chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party.
Dizzy Gillespie was one of the most influential and well-known jazz musicians of all-time. John Birks Gillespie, who passed away 25 years ago this month, he pioneered a number of jazz subgenres and became internationally famous for his legendary ability on the trumpet, his trademark “balloon cheeks,” and his playful stage presence.
Black people were the first to develop mathematics in Africa 37,000 years ago, as it was the first method of counting. Africans in the region known as modern-day Egypt scripted textbooks about math that included division, multiplication, algebraic equations, fractions and geometric formulas to calculate the area and volume of shapes.
Born December 3, 1922, Ralph Alexander Gardner became one of the leading pioneers in the field of hard plastics. The chemist was born in Cleveland and attended John Adams High School, were he learned to love chemistry. In 1939, he began college at the Case School of Applied Science, which later became part of Case Western Reserve University. Gardner would attend a few different higher institutions until settling down at the University of Illinois, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in 1943.
Today marks novelist, poet, essayist, anthropologist, and folklorist Zora Neale Hurston’s 125th birthday. She was born January 7, 1891 in Notasulga, Alabama, and died January 28, 1960. She is most famous for her 1937 novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, which has been adopted for TV and the stage many times over. She spent her life collecting the rich oral history of Black people in this country.