Photo by: Bev Grant/Contributor
During Black History Month, TV One is commemorating the achievements of African-American scholars, poets, politicians, and activists who have made extraordinary contributions to the Black community and the world.
Black History Month evolved from “Negro History Week,” established Feb. 7, 1926, by Carter G. Woodson, a Black historian and founder of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.
Despite many supporters uplifting the Black celebration, others dispelled the celebration.
To kick off our 2022 observance with the theme Represent 24/7, here are five facts that you may not know!
FACT #1: Throughout the 1900s, despite common press perceptions, the development of prosperous Black neighborhoods with thriving Black-owned businesses was prevalent.
Most textbooks fail to mention that these communities and cities were physically destroyed by white supremacist violence and gradually eroded by a legacy of redlining.
Widespread awareness of the Tulsa Massacre, also known as the “Black Wall Street Massacre,” would not emerge until nearly a century later.
FACT #2: Langston Hughes, a celebrated poet, born on February 1, 1901, is well regarded for his significant contributions to the Harlem Renaissance and the Black literary arts movement. However, his Senate summons from the Subcommittee on Investigation in 1953 is unknown mainly and isn’t taught in schools.
Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin, known for his anti-communist policies and practices, summoned Hughes to testify regarding his politics and the influence of far-left ideas on some of his poems. Even though Hughes proved that his work didn’t sympathize with Communist ideologies and managed to escape the subcommittee safely, many people noticed that some of his later collections of work missed the more charged pieces that had initially struck McCarthy’s attention.
FACT #3: Trailblazer women like Ella Baker are often left out of the conversation when discussing the Civil Rights Movement. Women like Baker played a crucial role in the organizing power of such campaigns.
She joined the NAACP as a field secretary in 1943 and rose through the ranks to become the organization’s branch director. Baker traveled to Atlanta in 1957 to help Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) while also leading her voter registration drive, the Crusade for Citizenship.
Baker convened a meeting for student organizers at Shaw University after the Greensboro sit-ins in 1960, and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was founded. Ella Baker, like her contemporaries, deserves her place in history as a significant organizer working for considerable advancements in voting rights and civil rights.
FACT #4: The Black Panther Party is frequently criticized for its extremism if it makes it into a textbook or education curriculum. The United States, on the other hand, took notice of the Panthers’ food initiatives in Oakland.
In 1969, members of the party began providing free meals to hundreds of schoolchildren. Party chapters around the country quickly adopted the program, and at its peak, it fed thousands of youngsters through 45 distinct programs. Under director J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI began operations to dismantle the program, destroying food and harassing party members in front of children.
With thousands of schoolchildren accustomed to free food, political leaders were forced by parents to come up with an alternative – in 1975, after the Panthers’ program was forcibly halted, the USDA launched the School Breakfast Program, which now helps feed almost 15 million children.
FACT #5: Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press was one of the first and few Black women-run and activist feminist publishing houses. It was a pioneer in spotlighting the work of writers who are women of color and had limited opportunities at other publishing companies. Kitchen Table was born out of a conversation between Combahee River Collective co-founder Barbara Smith and poet Audre Lorde to reclaim the surrounding narrative of women of color and control its direction.
Between 1981 and 1992, the collective distributed over 100 books by women of color authors. Their work paved the way for the feminist authors we admire today, and they deserve to be honored on a national level.
Were you surprised by any of these facts? Tell us down below how you plan on Represent 24/7 this month?