By Sister Shirley Tarpley
This is the start of Black History Month; again I will highlight some facts and accomplishments of African Americans. Some will be ones that are most requested and talked about from past years. Some readers have mentioned that they had learned a lot of Black History facts from reading my columns during the month of February.
It is my strong belief that as we honor the accomplishments of African Americans world-wide, we honor our ancestors. Too many of our Black children have forgotten or have never been taught that they are where they are in life because of our ancestors. Our ancestors suffered, prayed, honored God, endured many hardships and died so that future generations’ lives would be better. Many young Black children (and, I am sad to say, some older Black people also) have the misconception that it is not necessarily to honor the accomplishments of Black Americans that have made a huge difference world-wide. They wrongly believe and have said so, we have gotten over that part of history in America, and we have overcome. Let us not forget to honor and thank older Black Americans, especially this time of the year. Listen to what they have to say (over the years they have learned many things that will be helpful to young Black children.
LITTLE KNOWN BLACK HISTORY FACTS
(By Tom Joyner, Renowned Radio Personality and Dr. Henry L. Gates, Writer. These facts are published by McDonald’s Corporation. Copyright 2000)
Since the “Entertainment World” is all a buzzed about The Oscars, and how many nominations there are in each category, and speculating who will win what, I thought that it is good to know that Maya Angelou was the first Black woman to have a screenplay produced, “Georgia, Georgia,” which she also directed. In 1970, she was the first Black woman to have a non-fiction book on The New York Times Best Seller List; it was the first volume of her autobiography, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”. And she was the first Black woman to be a conductor on a San Francisco streetcar. The Harlem Renaissance was a flowering of African American creativity that exploded in America in the 1920’s. Langston Hughes (a postal stamp was made to honor Hughes) and Countee Cullen wrote poems, Nella Larsen and Jean Toomer wrote novels, and Zora Neale Hurston wrote about Black folk life. Aaron Douglas painted extraordinary pictures, and sculptor Augusta Savage turned stone into portraits. Broadway was open to Black musical theater with zestful singing, dancing, and comedy. The whole country was moving to the rhythm of a Black dance called the “Charleston.” In politics, Marcus Garvey was calling for Black self-reliance and identification with African heritage. W.E.B. Du Bois was fighting against segregation and for civil rights for people of color. This much energy, talent, and creativity infused the whole nation with a unique new vigor and originality.
Reading this column today, it is good to know that The Stone Churches of Lalibela in Ethiopia are one of the architectural wonders of the world. A group of eleven buildings, they are hewn from volcanic rock. But they are not carved from stone standing above ground. Astonishingly, they were cut into the earth, so that what one first sees is their roofs—level to the ground. It is said that the churches date from the twelfth century. Their original purpose is unknown, but the network of underground passages suggests they could have been either palaces or fortifications. The religious tradition is that they were built by angels in one night during the reign of King Lalibela, one of the early members of the Zagwe Dynasty. They now house Ethiopian Orthodox monks and a collection of Christian art treasures.
Samuel Cornish, he founded the first African American newspaper, “Freedom’s Journal.” The first issue appeared on March 16, 1827 with a strong civil rights stand. With world-wide use of our cell phones, it is good to know that Henry T. Sampson invented the Cellular Phone on July 6, 1971.