By: Morgan Thornton
Well, we have reached the month of February! Outside of February being known as the month of love and romance, since we celebrate Valentine’s Day on February 14th, February is also known as Black History Month.
Outside of giving chocolates and teddy bears to people we love and adore, during this month, we also pay tribute to African-Americans who helped breaking down racial barriers, fought through prejudice, segregation and discrimination to ensure a prosperous future for many generations to come after them. This is a month where we celebrate our heritage and we learn more about the sacrifices that were made for those in the present to be able to live our lives with equality, peace, and fair opportunities.
Now, when we tend to think of Black History, we tend to think of the same things and the same people.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks, Frederick Douglas, Harriet Tubman, Slavery being abolished in the 1800’s, Blacks and whites being separated in every aspect of life, etc.
Now, make no mistake, those are very influential people and historical moments time that deserved to be celebrated and paid homage to;however, we rarely discuss other events or people during this month that represent other monumental parts of our black history and culture.
But no worries, because today we are gonna have a brief history lesson on black history, but with a twist.
Insead of telling you about the normal black history lessons you are used to hearing, I am going to give you 5 lesser known black history facts to further your knowledge on Black History.
Here we go!
1. Black History Month was once Negro History Week.
Yep that’s right; black history month used to be black history week!
Carter G. Woodson, a black historian, originatated Negro History Week in 1926; which used to be celebrated during the 2nd week of February. This week was chosen because it coincided with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln, February 12, and of Frederick Douglass on February 14. In creating Negro History Week, he believed that appreciating and sharing history of African-Americans was a big step towards creating equality in our country. He once wrote, “If a race has no history, if it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world. That is, no amount of legislation can grant you equality if a nation doesn’t value you.”
2. Rosa Parks was not the first to give up her seat on the bus.
We commonly refer to Rosa Parks as the “Mother of the Civil Rights movement” and this is due to her being known as the first woman to give up her seat on a Montgomery Bus in Alabama as a protest. However, nine months before Rosa Parks broke headlines, there was a 15 year old girl named Claudette Clovin refused to move to the back of the bus after a long day at school. Claudette had been studying Black leaders in her segregated school and felt compelled to begin taking a stand for rights for the black community. When asked why she refused to give up her seat, she stated, “It felt like Sojourner Truth was on one side pushing me down, and Harriet Tubman was on the other side of me pushing me down. I couldn’t get up.”
Claudette was then was arrested for her civil disobedience and put in jail. Nevertheless, Colvin was one of the plaintiffs in the Browder v. Gayle case of 1956. This case later ruled which ruled that the segregation laws in Montgomery and Alabama were unconstutional.
3. Shirley Chisholm was the first black person to run for president and also the First black woman elected to the United States Congress.
In 1968, American politican and author Shirley Chisholm, became the first she became the first black woman elected to the United States Congress. During the terms from 1969 to 1983, she represented New York’s 12th congressional district. In 1972, she became the first black candidate for a major party’s nomination for President of the United States, and the first woman to run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. It was reported that during her campaign in 1972, she survived three assasination attempts.
4. Betty Boop was inspired by a black jazz singer from Harlem.
In 1930, a cartoonist, by the name of Max Fleischer, created a character by the name of Betty Boop who would later become of the more popular characters known for her flirtacious demeanor and signature vocals “Boop Oop A Doop.” However, the inspiration for this iconic character has been said to be an jazz singer named Esther Jones who was known as “Baby Esther” and performed regularly in the Cotton Club during the 1920s and had a trademark vocal style of “boops” and scatting.
5. W.E.B. DuBois was the first African-American to earn a Ph.D from Harvard
In 1988, W.E.B DuBois, American writer and civil rights activist, began to study at the prestigious Harvard College to earn his doctorate degree. In 1989, he earned his PhD in History making him the first African American to earn a doctorate at Harvard.
Interesing right? And just think these are only 5 lesser known black history facts; there are so many more things we can learn about!!
All in all, I hope this encourages you to dig deeper and find out more interesting facts about the culture and history of African-Americans during Black History Month!
And if you have any other interesting facts or lesser known black history lessons be sure to share with us at kishmagazine. Share some of your knowledge with us on Instagram, twitter, or Facebook.