February is Black History Month. Black History Month started as Negro History Week.
Dr. Carter B. Woodson in 1926 began to ask people to celebrate the accomplishment of his people to give all races the knowledge of the importance of us all. The truth is we all need each other. He chose the second week of February because it was the birthday of Frederick Douglass. Frederick Douglas (1817-1895) was a freedom fighter of his day. Born a slave he escaped to freedom and started his own newspaper, The North Star.
I wonder what would Frederick Douglas or Dr. Carter Woodson have written about our day. We have come along way, but we still have a long way to go. We have been blessed with great leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King and now the 1st African-American President, Barack Obama . May be they would be happy about the first two African Americans men to coach in the NFL Super bowl, just a few years ago. Now it has happen more than once of having African American coaches. This month even though they did not win, they made a great game with the Pittsburgh Steelers. But the past year has reminded us there have been a lot of great women, both white and black, who have helped with the struggle of civil rights. With in the last few years we have lost Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King and others.
One of the early great leaders in black history was a woman name "Harriet." I would like to suggest that she is not just a black history heroine, but also an American history heroine. Harriet Tubman was a black American who used the wit of a James Bond, 007 of the movies, with the quickness of Bat Girl, and the inner strength of Wonder Woman to free and rescue slaves of her day from the tyranny of slavery. After reaching Philadelphia and freedom herself, she went back 19 times to help others that were still under the crushing weight of slavery. No wonder they called her the Black Moses of her day. They did not have super heroes or heroines to compare her to, so they used the Bible. You remember Moses who was born a Hebrew slave of his day, but through the power of God's intervention became the adopted son of Pharaoh's daughter. Later he saw the inhuman way the slaves were being treated and tried to stop the whipping of the slave. There by killing the taskmaster and becoming a fugitive of Pharaohs court. But after 40 years in the wilderness he came back and negotiated a freedom from Egypt for his people, including his parents. Harriet Tubman did the same thing. Now even some of the people of Egypt today, are saying we are not going to take it any more, and have marched for their freedom.
As far as I am concerned like Harriet Tubman was needed for her time, Rosa Parks was needed for her generation. On December 1, 1956 at the age of 41 she decided it was time for a change. That day she decided to stand up for her rights, by sitting down. She was not the first to do this, but it was the right time. A young 27-year-old preacher, named Martin Luther King had just come into the community. Rosa Parks, when she sat down, started a movement where the whole city stayed off the busses for 381 days. They walked to work; car pooled, and went to rallies every night for over a year. No e-mails, no facebook, no twitter, no cell phones, no on-line information or web address, no faxed information just a passion to make a difference. Today some families have two or three cell-phone numbers, e-mail address, all kinds of on-line information, and faxes, and we can't get a neighborhood meeting.
Mrs. Coretta Scott King was needed for her influence. It is my belief that she handled her husband's legacy well and made his name more famous after his death then it was while he was alive. There have been a number of great leaders that have gone off the scene to there reward. But Mrs. King, the week after his death, finishes the march that her husband had started. Mrs. King continues the work of her husband, in starting the Martin Luther King Center, fighting for the holiday of his birthday. The only black man to have a birthday celebrate by the United States. The only other two birthdays celebrate by the nation are in February, and they are both presidents, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Thank you, Mrs. Coretta Scott King.
I don't want us to forget at least one more woman that died in 2005. She goes down in history as the 1st woman to run for the Democratic presidential nomination, before Ms. Hillary Clinton and Condaleeza Rice were ever considered, back in 1972. She was also the 1st black woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Her name Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm, (1924-2005). She served for 7 terms in the house, from 1969 to 1983. She came in to the house at the same time Richard Nixon came into the White House. She came to fame as a critic of the Vietnam War and an advocate for the urban poor. Shirley Chisholm once said, "The House of Representatives was an institution out of touch with the rest of the country and ruled by a small group of old men." In 1993 she was nominated to be the U.S. ambassador to Jamaica but withdrew because of ill health. She wrote several books, the most famous entitled, "Unbought and Unbossed." She died on Jan. 1, 2005.
Black History has grown to mega levels, and women of color have added much to its growth. Both local and national women of color have helped in the success that has been experienced. It will take all us, both black and white, male, female, to go to the next level of peace.