Every year in school, kids are taught history in their social science classes. The Civil and World Wars take up a large chunk of that time as well as actions such as the Gold Rush and signing of the Declaration of Independence. What gets glossed over are the people that participated in and made changes in those eras. In particular, the accomplishments of minorities get covered by those made by their Caucasian counter parts. February is the time of year where we look at these accomplishments and acknowledge them. Black history month was created to make sure that these people of history are not lost.
William Edward Burghardt DuBois was one of the founders of NAACP. He was also the first African-American to graduate from Harvard University with a doctoral degree. He later became a university writer which helped him later become a social scientist that focused on black culture. While many activists at the time wanted to integrate black culture into the white society, DuBois was against that. He wanted black culture to stay independent through separatism. He was a strong figure head for the African-American community from 1910 until the 1960’s.
Benjamin Banneker is considered to be the first African-American scientist by many. He was born free from slavery in the 1800’s on a small farm in Maryland. He did attend school, but was mostly self taught. His abilities in analytical and mathematical skills were well known in the the local area. He helped survey the Federal Territory ( what is now Washington DC) and assisted in getting a precise measurement for the meter. He also corresponded with Thomas Jefferson on the issue of slavery. Little else is known about him because all his personal records were burned in a house fire on the day of his funeral.
Charles Drew is to be thanked by millions of people for saving their lives. In 1940 he discovered that plasma from blood could be separated and stored for later use. This discovery helped develop the national blood banks. These banks saved at least a few thousand lives during World War II. After the war, he went on to become a professor at Howard University in Washington DC.
Condoleezza Rice was the first African American women to hold the title of Secretary of State. She was a prodigy both in her studies and at playing piano. She went to college at the age of 15 with the intent of being a pianist. She eventually changed her mind and studied international politics. She taught at Stanford University before working at the Pentagon with the senior George Bush. She was appointed as the SOE in 2005 by Bill Clinton and held the position until the next election in 2009.
The Harlem Renaissance was a period in time where the African-American Community in Manhattan increased in concentration. It started in the 1920’s and lasted until the late 1930’s. New York was the perfect place for the revolution of Black culture to be reborn. New York was the publishing capital along with the being a port city. This allowed for any works created to be dispersed over a large area. The main focus of this era was for African-
Americans to embrace their individual characteristics and cultural background rather than looking for acceptance by the majority racial group.
MSUM’s Black Student Union has had several events planned for this month to help celebrate their cultural backgrounds. Several have already passed, but MSUM is having speaker Nick Gaines come and speak. He will be in the Glasrud Auditorium in Weld Hall on February 23rd from 7:30 to 9:30 pm.