News / USA

African American History Month Has Its Own History, Future

TEXT SIZE - +
Nico Colombant

Americans commemorate the heritage of African-Americans every February in what is known as African American History Month, yet little is known about the association that started the tradition and what it is doing now.

James Stewart is the current president of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.

He proudly outlines the group's own history.

"The association was started in 1915 by Dr. Carter G. Woodson who is one of the first black PhDs from Harvard University," said James Stewart. "Carter G. Woodson established what was first called Negro History Week, which later became Negro History Month, and has evolved into Black History Month."

Stewart collects politically-charged African American art at his home in Pennsylvania.

"The piece here is a representation by Elizabeth Catlett of a lynching," he said. "There are no faces of the perpetrators so that it is a way of saying that this is really a cultural phenomenon as opposed to something that is done by individuals."

Stewart says Black History Month is an effective method to combat such persecution.

"For so many decades, there was a dismissal of the impact of people of African descent on Western civilizations," said Stewart. "So the recovery and elevation of that history is absolutely critical for ongoing efforts to try to promote equality in this country."

Stewart worries about the current shrinking of black neighborhoods in big American cities. Several decades ago they were thriving cultural centers.

The deeper you go into some traditionally black inner city areas, Stewart says, like here in Pittsburgh's Hill District, the more you see abandoned homes, run-down storefronts and police chasing people down.

Stewart is helping with efforts to revive these neighborhoods.

"What you are describing is what I would call a 21st century approach to community empowerment," he said.

Malik Bankston is the executive director of the Kingsley Association community center. He is exhibiting a miniaturized version of a Pittsburgh neighborhood in order to work on ideas for renewal.

Malik Bankston, the executive director of the Kingsley Association community center
Malik Bankston, the executive director of the Kingsley Association community center




He says it is important to remember heritage while also working for the future.

"Right outside of this building is a mural project that was completed about 16 months ago and on that mural project are depicted the faces of all sorts of people who are part of this neighborhood's past," said Malik Bankston. "But there are also faces of people who represent the neighborhood's future. Most of us don't usually realize that we are actually making history."

In the U.S. capital, Washington, members of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History recently came together to celebrate the 135th anniversary of Carter G. Woodson's birth.

Like the founder of Black History Month, they said they were proud of their heritage, and would make sure it continues to thrive.
 

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid