February 2015 a century of Black Life, History, and Culture

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African American History Month

February 2015

A Century of Black Life, History, and Culture

Over the past century, African American life, history, and culture have become major forces in the United States and the world. In 1915, few could have imagined that African Americans in music, art, and literature would become appreciated by the global community. Fewer still could have predicted the prominence achieved by African Americans, as well as other people of African descent, in shaping world politics, war, and diplomacy. Indeed, it was nearly universally believed that Africans and people of African descent had played no role in the unfolding of history and were a threat to American civilization itself. A century later, few can deny the centrality of African Americans in the making of American history.

This transformation is the result of effort, not chance. Confident that their struggles mattered in human history, black scholars, artists, athletes, and leaders self-consciously used their talents to change how the world viewed African Americans. The New Negro of the post-World War I era made modernity their own and gave the world a cornucopia of cultural gifts, including jazz, poetry based on the black vernacular, and an appreciation of African art. African American athletes dominated individual and team sports transforming baseball, track-and-field, football, boxing, and basketball. In a wave of social movements, African American activism transformed race relations, challenged American foreign policy, and became the American conscience on human rights.

While the spotlight often shines on individuals, this movement is the product of organization, of institutions and institution-builders who gave direction to effort. The National Urban League promoted the Harlem Renaissance. The preservation of the black past became the mission of Arturo Schomburg and Jesse Moorland, leading to the rise of the Schomburg Research Center in Black Culture and Howard University’s Moorland-Spingarn Research Center. The vision of Margaret Burroughs and others led to the African American museum movement, leading to the creation of black museums throughout the nation, culminating with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. Student activism of the 1960s resulted in the Black Studies Movement and the creation of black professional associations, including the National Council of Black Studies, and a host of doctoral programs at major American universities.

*** This introduction is issued by the Association for the Study of African American Life and Hisory (ASALH). ASALH has selected “A Century of Black Life, History, and Culture” as the 2015 National Black History theme. [http://asalh100.org/black-history-themes/2015-theme/] ***

Select Online Resources:

  • “Documenting African American History”. National Endowment for the Humanities. < http://edsitement.neh.gov/feature/documenting-african-american-history>

  • National Museum of African American History and Culture. < http://nmaahc.si.edu/>

  • Black History Teaching Resources.” Smithsonian Institution. < http://www.smithsonianeducation.org/educators/resource_library/african_american_resources.html>

  • “African American History Month.” National Park Service. < http://www.nps.gov/nr/feature/afam/>

  • "African American History Month”. The Library of Congress. < http://www.africanamericanhistorymonth.gov/index.html>

  • The History Makers.

Essay Contest

African American History Month is celebrated annually in the United States during the month of February. In celebrating the contributions African Americans have made to American history, and in working to deepen our understanding of our nation’s history, LPHS will hold an essay contest and assembly. Read more below.

Choose an individual of African American Heritage whom you feel exemplified/s the IB Learner Profile trait of a RISK-TAKER. In a 500-600 word essay, justify how and why the person you have chosen represents the trait of a RISK-TAKER. Explain why you believe your subject should be honored during African American History Month.

Due Date: Tuesday, February 3rd
All essays must …

  • be typed in Times New Roman, 12-point font with one-inch margins and double-spacing

  • include a heading with student name, class/period, and teacher name

  • include a creative title

  • be 500-600 words

  • Once in a lifetime opportunity – I release you from standard World Studies essay-writing restrictions. You may use personal pronouns!!!

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