February is National Black History Month. If you live in the Intermountain West like I do, you could live for twenty years and never become of aware of the that fact. There is little fanfare. I failed to see any exhibits reminding us of the contributions that African Americans made to out history. Diversity is hard to see in the West.
I lived and worked in some of the most racially torn areas of the Midwest. I remember the riots, sit-ins, the bombings, the brutal beatings, the water cannons, the name calling of small children who only wanted an equal education. We need to take a breath and remember were we come from because we haven't gone too far.
This year’s theme “Black Women in American Culture and History” honors African American women and the myriad of roles they played in the shaping of our nation. The theme, chosen by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History urges all Americans to study and reflect on the value of their contribution to the nation.
So to make the bridge from February's Black History Month to March's Women's History Month, I thought I'd pick a few African American women who made a mark in history. It took a little searching, but I found a few women all of us should remember.
My all time favorite is Rosa Parks. The courage that it took for this working woman to silently sit in her seat and refuse to move to the back of the bus is beyond words. Her bravery should never be forgotten not only all women, but by any group that has felt disenfranchised. She was the first since the American Revolution to silently say, "No more." This single act is best described by her ""I have learned over the years that when one's mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear." (Parks)
There were many brave members of the Underground Railroad. There were many brave members of the Underground Railroad. Harriet Tubman was one of the better-known conductors. She was an escaped slavery, a civil rights activist, and a conductor on the Underground Railroad. " I was the conductor of the Underground Railroad for eight years, and I can say what most conductors can't say; I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger." (Tubman) She also was a Union spy.
|Zora Neale Hurston|
A little known, but nonetheless courageous women with great tenacity, is Zora Neale Hurston, author, anthropologist, and folklorist. Most of her plays remained unpublished and unproduced until they were rediscovered in the Copyright Deposit Drama Collection in 1997. They originally were deposited as typescripts in the United States Copyright Office between 1925 and 1944. The plays reflect Hurston's life experiences, travels, and research, especially her study of folklore in the African-American South.
These women are a small representation of all the women who contributed and mad a difference in changing the course of Black History. They make a great transition as we leave February and focus on March Women's History Month.