On April 28, 1967 the world famous boxer Muhammad Ali refused to enlist in the army and go to war in Vietnam stating “I ain’t got no quarrel with those Vietcong”. He had become Islamic because of Malcolm X’s powerful movement, changing his name from Cassius Clay and was charged with 5 years for evasion and banned from the sport of boxing, meaning he had to give up his heavyweight title. He strived for a change with the treatment of his people in Louisville. He faced an all-white jury and was sentenced to the maximum and $10,000 fine, but to his community he inspired others to not go against their morals for the governments sake.
This topic is very interesting because everyone knows Muhammad Ali from his great boxing accomplishments but many don’t know about his involvement in the African American community and standing up for his beliefs. Personally I enjoy watching the sport of boxing, and anytime you talk about the sport Ali is bound to be mentioned. He had incredible heart and faith in his religion. During 1967 there was a lot of racial tension going on in Louisville where Ali stated “Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?” He was from Louisville and this was also where he began his boxing career. This concept relates closely with the meaning of Black History month because he was an influential African American figure during the 60’s who wanted to bring a change and fight racism and not many people know that, so it’s important his story is shared during Black History month so his history isn’t lost.
“Angela Davis must go free,” Franklin said. “Black people will be free. I’ve been locked up (for disturbing the peace in Detroit) and I know you got to disturb the peace when you can’t get no peace. Jail is hell to be in. I’m going to see her free if there is any justice in our courts, not because I believe in communism, but because she’s a Black woman and she wants freedom for Black people. I have the money; I got it from Black people — they’ve made me financially able to have it — and I want to use it in ways that will help our people.”
Aretha Franklin was an American singer, songwriter, pianist, and civil rights activist. Growing up in a Baptist Church in Detroit Michigan wasn’t easy. Her dad was a minister at their church. Even though he was a minister he didn’t treat her mother very kindly. At the age of 18, she started her music career with Columbia Records. With her father as a civil rights activist and her music career growing fast, she used her fame and knowledge to also speak about racial equality. Franklin’s hit song “Respect” was used as an anthem for racial and gendered political movements. Using her talents to advocate equality was something she was amazing at. In 1968, Aretha Franklin sang “Take My Hand, Precious Lord” at Martin Luther King Jr’s funeral. Just like King, she was an inspiration to many.
Being a black woman in the 50’s and 60’s wasn’t any easy thing. Aretha Franklin broke boundaries and created an inspiring life for others to look up to. I believe Aretha Franklin is an important person to acknowledge during Black History Month because of her amazing spirit and inspiring goals. It’s important to have an African American women in the 50’s as a role model. She overcame discrimination from her skin color and her gender. She used her talents to make change in the world.
A strong example of Franklins commitment to the civil rights movement was when she offered to post bail for Angela Davis. Angela Davis was a revolutionary activist and scholar who was accused of assisting in a courtroom takeover which ended in four deaths. “Angela Davis must go free,” Franklin said. “Black people will be free. I’ve been locked up (for disturbing the peace in Detroit) and I know you got to disturb the peace when you can’t get no peace. Jail is hell to be in. I’m going to see her free if there is any justice in our courts, not because I believe in communism, but because she’s a Black woman and she wants freedom for Black people. I have the money; I got it from Black people — they’ve made me financially able to have it — and I want to use it in ways that will help our people.”
Her selfless acts to the movement shows how serious she took equality. Aretha Franklin wasn’t just a woman with a good voice. She had things to say and wanted to help. I believe she is a very important person to learn about during Black History Month.
His “theory” was that lack of proper minority representation in comic books and comic book media and took “action” by cofounding Milestone Media.
Dwayne McDuffie was born February 20, 1962, in Detroit, Michigan and was a comic book and TV show writer. After graduating from college, he moved to New York and eventually got a job at Marvel comics. He noticed a lack of black and minority characters at the time and didn’t like that most of them didn’t get to have their own books and were usually just the sidekick to white characters. In order to fix that, he and 3 other men founded Milestone Media, a comic book company that released books starting minority characters. Eventually, Milestone Media was brought by DC and that led to Dwayne being able to create and write for the TV show “Static Shock”which had Vergil Hawkins, a black teenager, as the main character. He was even able to become a writer for other popular shows like “Justice League Unlimited” and comic books like “Justice League of America”. Throughout his career, he won or was nominated for multiple writing awards for his work. He died on February 21, 2011.
I think that Dwayne McDuffie was important because of his for minority representation in comic books while also being a good writer. His “theory” was that lack of proper minority representation in comic books and comic book media and took “action” by cofounding Milestone Media. Not all of his stories were perfect, but Dwayne was a good writer and creator and didn’t limit himself to just stories starring black people. He also knew that equality is important as well and didn’t try to add an agenda where it didn’t belong. While “Static Shock” had episodes about racism and gang violence, “Ben 10” and “Justice League” had mostly white casts, but he wrote good stories for them and didn’t try to shoehorn a black character that would miraculously save the day out of nowhere.
AREG. (2011, June 20). Dwayne McDuffie, Super Hero writier. Retrieved January 26, 2020, from https://aaregistry.org/story/dwayne-mcduffie-super-hero-writier/
Comic Vine. (2019, July 3). Dwayne McDuffie (Person). Retrieved January 26, 2020, from https://comicvine.gamespot.com/dwayne-mcduffie/4040-42450/
DC Entertainment. (2020). Dwayne McDuffie. Retrieved January 26, 2020, from https://www.dccomics.com/talent/dwayne-mcduffie
Matiasevich, G. (2017, February 21). d-mcduffie-e1487430802895 [Dwayne McDuffie Photo]. Retrieved from http://www.multiversitycomics.com/longform/mcduffie-primer/
Narcisse, E. (2016, November 23). The Wife of Legendary Comics Writer Dwayne McDuffie Wants to Make Sure People Never Forget His Legacy. Retrieved January 26, 2020, from https://io9.gizmodo.com/the-wife-of-legendary-comics-writer-dwayne-mcduffie-wan-1789270102
Watchtower Database. (2019, June 26). Black Heroes Matter – Diversity in the DCAU | Watchtower Database [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bYcA5hhVyUg
When I say that Malcolm X is an individual who should be taught about in Black History Month, it is not because of his achievements, or what he was trying to achieve, but rather his character development.
From a young age, Malcolm X, originally born Malcolm Little, suffered the consequences of the white dominant society. His father, Earl little, was a supporter of Black Nationalist leader Martin Garvey, and the Little family consistently received death threats forcing them to relocate two times before Malcolm was even four years old. Later in life, after the controversial death of his father, Malcolm X was sentenced to 10 years in prison. During his time in prison, Malcolm devoted himself to the Islamic religion while educating himself. The Islamic religion taught Malcom that white society systematically worked “to keep African-Americans from empowering themselves and achieving political, economic and social success.” With these teachings in mind, Malcom took on “X” as his new last name as a means of denouncing his slave name and signifying his lost cultural name.
Malcolm X then established himself as a universally renowned advocate of black rights and directly opposed white oppression, all while guiding African Americans to the Islamic faith. He lived from May 19, 1925 to February 21, 1965 and was commonly compared to his fellow advocate of Black empowerment, Martin Luther King Jr., but has since inherited controversial opinions from both foes and supporters due to his opposition to King’s harmless principles. Malcolm X’s principles and beliefs that retaliation from the black population were both inevitable and necessary to catalyze real change in the white dominant world, ultimately inspired the creation of the Black anther Party. It was through Malcolm X’s assassination that the Black Panther Party was formed, and proceeded to inherit his principles, and even engaged in multiple firefights with the police, all in protest of white oppression.
I personally always found the story of Malcolm X to be very interesting. Held within a close, if not the same regard as Martin Luther king Jr., I always felt as though King embodied the right judgment in the hearts of African Americans, while Malcolm X embodied their suppressed, vengeful hearts. During an interview I watched, Malcom X commented on the peaceful protests of King, and the accomplishments achieved by such, in a belittling way. Malcolm X quoted Wyatt Walker, King’s right-hand man, in a manner that suggested King’s accomplishments have led to the Black population being “duped” and in fact, chained even tighter. Wyatt Walker stated that “in some cases, half freedom is worse than no freedom at all” in reference to the current state of the civil rights movement in which federal laws were passed in favor of the African American. By quoting Walker in such a way, it is clear that Malcolm X believed that King’s methods of protest were far from enough for real change to occur. The extremist side of Malcolm X which I find so intriguing is revealed even further when in that same interview, he described the banding together of Black people in likeminded thinking, that when one is attacked, all are attacked, is the only way the brutality against Black people, caused by white people will come to an end. After hearing those words from Malcolm, I truly acknowledged his skill with words in which he was able to voice a threat that cannot truly be called a threat. He is also sending a message to the African American’s who were watching the interview that in order to beat their oppressors, they must band together in retribution. One thing I truly would have loved to see is Malcolm X’s reaction to the Black Panther Party inspired by his death. I would have wanted to see if he would support their practices, or regret sparking a flame that lead to violence and death on both sides.
From my experience in Black history Month in Canada, I came to realize that Malcolm X was never spoken of. If not for my parents and elder sister, I might not have known him even today. That always lead me to think if he was excluded from the Black History Month curriculum due to his practices, or if he was not to be considered a Hero or a symbolic figure in the fight for civil rights. I recall asking a teacher of mine about this, and that was the first time I heard someone refer to Malcolm X as an extremist. It was from then on that I became highly interested in his opinions, character, and boldness that lead him to speak out against white injustice in a threatening way knowing full well of all the dangers and risks that came along with doing so.
Black History Month is dedicated to celebrating not only key players in the fight for civil rights, but the bravery and perseverance of the race as a whole. However, the outstanding individuals in the civil rights movement such as King, are still analyzed and taught about because of the inspiration their stories yield. I think if that is the case, then Malcolm X should be one of those individuals. However, one could argue that his efforts amounted to nothing in the end since the religion he followed and lead people to was figure-headed by Elijah Mohammed, a liar who had sexual relations with children, and it was Martin Luther King Jr. who’s voice truly catalyzed change.
When I say that Malcolm X is an individual who should be taught about in Black History Month, it is not because of his achievements, or what he was trying to achieve, but rather his character development. Malcolm X was very unwelcoming to white people and directed his teachings and ministering exclusively to Black people. However, upon denouncing his faith and reverence to Elijah Mohammed, and visiting the Mosque himself, Malcolm X returned and began ministering to all races, and even stated that he met people with blonde hair and blue eyes that he could call brothers. This is a lesson in itself that can be taught in Black History Month as well, that Malcolm X learned not to direct his hatred towards an entire race, but towards the source of the issue. Martin Luther King already practiced this by refusing to harm his white oppressors, and who knows, maybe before his assassination, Malcolm X sympathized with King’s principles.
During the 1960s, major cities such as Boston, Kansas City, and Washington, were the homes of rising anger between the races. Discrimination, segregation, police brutality, and poverty were the inevitable realities of the ghettos within these large cities. Ghettos were public housing areas specifically created by the U.S. government to house people of the same race. African Americans were crowded into these ghettos where garbage was not collected, rental prices were higher, and disease was common. These ghettos were provoked at even the slightest instigation, and Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination was the biggest instigation of all. After King’s assassination, riots began to break out in about 125 cities. African Americans were extremely upset about the way they were being treated throughout the country. Instead of using peace, they turned to violence to voice their anger and frustration. The riots became so violent that the National Guard had to patrol the cities and try to stop the fights. The riots burned major American cities and caused approximately $65 million to $385 million worth of damage.
The Riots of 1968 are important because they show what life was like after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. When many people think of Black History Month they only think of Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. People tend to forget about what happened after King was shot, but what happened after his assassination helped to set the stage for how racism continued and segregation both continued and eventually changed. This topic was interesting to me because I had never heard of them before, and I now know why they started. I believe that the riots happened because people around the world were tired of nothing being done to fix segregation. The riots were an ongoing event because of white racism and oppression of African Americans.
This relates greatly to Black History Month because these riots are a huge part of African American and American History. Theses riots showed how African Americans and even white people dealt with the assassination and the ongoing racism throughout the world. King wanted to use peace to protest, but after he was killed, peaceful protests and marches turned to fights, fires, and destruction. The riots symbolize the extreme anger and hate the African Americans had for the ways in which they were being forced to live. The riots allowed conservatives and officials to finally open their eyes and address laws that were an issue within America. The riots, although violent and destructive, showed people around the world that the way African Americans were being treated would not be tolerated.
The riots happened in over 100 cities and started because of many years of racial unrest. These riots happened as a result of the ongoing black and white segregation throughout America. For example, African Americans could not find jobs, lived in ghettos, and even had to go to separate schools. This continued racism triggered the mass destruction that went on in many cities throughout the country. Racism, although improved today, is still an issue within our country.
“Stallworth proved that the ideology of the Ku Klux Klan was based in nothingness.”
Ron Stallworth was the first black cop in Colorado Springs. He gained this distinction in 1972. This, however, is not his major claim to fame. While this is important as it shows the fact that Colorado was desegregating, there is one mission in his time as a police officer that is possibly the most important. 6 years after he got his chance to become a police officer, he got his big break to be an undercover detective. After becoming a detective, he found an ad for the Ku Klux Klan in the newspaper, and chose to answer it. Over the phone, he then proceeded to possibly be the first African-American to join the Ku Klux Klan. He used this as an in to keep track of the activity of the Klan in Colorado Springs, in order to prevent any future violence from the Klan. One issue was the fact that as a black man, he could not meet with the Klan in person, so he had a white officer pretend to be him. The plan worked, and the Klan was fooled. They could not figure out that he and the white officer were two different people, and Ron Stallworth was even able to meet David Duke as his bodyguard. One issue is that the real Ron and David Duke had been talking over the phone for months, and the fake Ron Stallworth would be in the same room, but Duke was none the wiser, and even let the real Ron Stallworth get a picture with him. Ron Stallworth was a great detective, and was able to put aside the obvious issues of going along with the Ku Klux Klan in order to keep the mission and protect innocent people.
I think that this story is significant, interesting, and important for black history and for Black History Month. The Ku Klux Klan have waged wars on African Americans, and for a black police officer to be able to infiltrate and fool them into thinking that he is a “White Aryan” like the rest of them is hilarious. It shows that the concept of a superior race and that you could tell what race someone is just over the phone is a farce, and has no basis on anything. By being able to engage on the phone with David Duke, and for him to not be able to tell who you are when you meet face-to-face simply because he was expecting a white person instead of a black police officer shows that Ron proved that the ideology of the Ku Klux Klan was based in nothingness.
Ron Stallworth relates to Back History Month is the struggle to be accepted and treated as a equal citizen of the United States. He had to get into the police force through a cadet program and fought through barriers to become the first African-American police officer in Colorado Springs. This also relates to Black History Month because of the reason of trying to remember what life was like before current events. Understanding the past and the situations surrounding it plays a large role in history as a whole, and specifically African American history. Understanding the time that Ron was a detective is important, and it can better show the importance of his actions and sacrifices.
“The erasure of Black history creates the misconception that Black issues are inauthentic or rooted in laziness rather than institutional discrimination.”
Science is an ever-evolving subject with many moving parts and related entities affected by its advancements. Some incredibly important chemical advancements were made by Black women, whether they be increasing the number of Black people enrolled in higher education or altering molecules to treat illnesses.
“I had no idea that these women existed before working on this project…”
Josephine Silone Yates (1859-1921) and Marie Maynard Daly (1921-2003) were both influential in academia. Both earned chemistry degrees, became professors, and formed programs to increase the number of Black people pursuing higher education. Because of their work, women like Bettye Washington Greene (1935-1995), Alma Levant Hayden (1927-1967), and Alice Ball (1892-1916) were successful in earning several patents for latex, proving that a popularly used compound was not a cure for cancer as it was claimed to be, and developing a treatment for leprosy, respectively.
The breakthroughs made by these women were not only impressive at the time, but continue to be significant to this day. In 2020 various organizations still work to increase the number of minorities participating in higher education in the STEM fields. The accomplishments made by these women should be widely taught and publicized such that more individuals may be inspired to increase diversity in fields where minimal perspectives are offered.
I find this theme interesting and important because I am a Black woman studying chemistry, and I am currently the only person of my demographic in the chemistry department here at SFU. I had no idea that these women existed before working on this project, and it is somewhat comforting to know that multiple women have been in my exact position before.
This theme relates most to the creation of Black History Month. Carter G. Woodson was frustrated with the fact that the accomplishments of Black individuals were not being publicized, and therefore could not be properly celebrated. If it were not for my research, I would have never known that these women existed, let alone learning about the accomplishments and scientific advancements they made. The need for universal celebration for Black history and culture is important because the current issues that face Black people were not created in a vacuum, which has also been mentioned in class. The erasure of Black history creates the misconception that Black issues are inauthentic or rooted in laziness rather than institutional discrimination.
I honestly would say that Fred Hampton has always been one of the most misunderstood individuals as well as an important ambassador to the history of Blacks. As many may not know, Fred Hampton was known for his personal charisma combined with his organizing skills and gift of speech which allowed him to be noticed and quickly rise within the Black Panthers. He was also known for developing the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Organization in which he helped gain its national popularity. According to an article from “Rediscovering Black History”, “Fred Hampton was born on August 30, 1948 in Maywood, Illinois”.Hampton died in 1969 his death was very much so mysterious and claimed to have been seen as an execution then having police action taken place. He was also mistreated such as him being drugged supposedly by O’Neal in his sleep and sleeping through it. Through all the trials of growing up in such a rural environment, he was gifted in academics and athletics in which as a child he wanted to play for the New York Yankees but ended up studying pre-law at Triton Junior College.
However, around this time he became inspired to study law to use it as a defense against police and their brutality. Doing his time in the Organization, he increased the Council’s membership to over 500 members. He also had brokered a nonaggression pact between Chicago’s most powerful and dangerous street gangs which led to him gaining tons of recognition and getting unwanted attention from the FBI which was the reason he got murdered
From my perspective on Fred Hampton, I honestly believe that he was highly important to our culture in history although people didn’t mention or give him the credit he deserved. What made him so important to our culture and Black History was that he was a significant part of our development as a whole in which he helped develop the The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. He related to Black History Month in so many ways because he created a movement that went against inequality and police brutality toward people of color. This NAACP movement opened up a lot of opportunities for those who didn’t have a voice or platform to be heard. More than less, Hampton’s leadership abilities were apparent. It also created another accolade which granted him an opportunity from the Party’s Ten Point Program that integrated black self determination and elements of Maoism which motivated Hampton to join and relocate to Chicago.
He was an essential part to the success of Black History. Given to his personal charisma and skills, he became the leader of the Chicago Chapter. Becoming this leader for a such a big chapter gave him many duties such as organizing rallies, working with the People’s Clinic, and for the Free Breakfast Program. Following Hampton’s success with the BBP, it had captured the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“Haas recounts the life of Fred Hampton, a community activist radicalized by the antiwar and Black Power movements, who gained a spot on the FBI’s Key Agitator Index. Haas draws parallels with his own upbringing in Atlanta’s upper-middle-class Jewish community, witnessing discrimination but doing nothing to challenge it until he came to Chicago. Haas chronicles the events leading to Hampton’s assassination and the aftermath, the years of investigation, and the discovery of a connection between the Chicago police action and the FBI investigation of black leaders.”
For this project, I decided to focus on how LeBron James, the NBA super star, honored Eric Garner, an African American man. Eric Garner was a man who lived in Staten Island, New York. On July 17, 2014, he was going about his everyday life selling cigarettes when NYPD Officers started a conflict. They accused Garner of selling cigarettes without tax stamps. Garner asked the officers to stop harassing him and to let him be. After that, officers attacked him for allegedly not cooperating with them. Eric Garner was then placed in a choke hold by Officer Pantaleo. While in the choke hold, on the ground gasping for air, Garner repeatedly stated, “I can’t breathe.” From there on, an ambulance was called and Garner was taken to the hospital. He was announced dead later that day. Officer Pantaleo ended up not being accused for this crime.
I think that it is inspirational when famous athletes stand up for what they believe in because it lets their followers know that they are allowed to stand up for what they think is right too.
These actions caught the attention of LeBron James. On December 8, 2014, James and Kyrie Irving, another NBA player, wore warmup shirts before their game that said, “I can’t breathe,” in honor of Eric Garner. They both wanted to show their support. Lebron James specifically wanted to support Garner and his family. In the postgame interview that night Lebron stated, “This is more of a motion to the family more than anything. As a society, we have to do better. We have to be better for one another, no matter what race you are. But it’s more of a shotout to the family more than anything. They’re the ones that should be getting all the energy and effort,” (TIME Magazine). I think what happened to Eric Garner was wrong and what Lebron James and a few others did was a great way to show their respect and support in honor of what happened.
I thought that this case of LeBron James was interesting because I love when famous athletes get involved with the community, show their support, and demonstrate what they stand for. The thing that interested me the most about this topic was how doing something as simple as wearing a shirt to honor someone can go a very long way and shows respect. I think that it is inspirational when famous athletes stand up for what they believe in because it lets their followers know that they are allowed to stand up for what they think is right too. Famous athletes inspire people to accomplish things they never thought they could do.
I also thought that this topic was important because it shows that this kind of treatment toward African Americans is unfair, unjust, and not right. This sad case that happened with Eric Garner relates to Black History Month because these kinds of actions and treatment towards African Americas should never go unnoticed. Everyone is equal in my eyes and there is no reason why African Americans should be discriminated against.
The month of February is a time we take to honor, respect, and reflect upon on all African Americans. The meaning of Black History Month is deeper than just recognizing someone, but rather reflecting upon how they still impact our world today. The topic of Eric Garner relates to the meanings of Black History Month because Garner should never be forgotten. What happened to him should never happen to anyone. There are still too many other scenarios like what happened to Eric Garner present in our societies today. These kinds of actions need to be stopped. Also, the way that LeBron James honored Garner depicts the meaning of February because LeBron knew the actions taken toward Garner were wrong and LeBron wanted to take a stand for what he believes in. If more people took the time to really honor Black History Month and learn what it is about, perhaps there would be less discrimination and violence toward African Americans today. Overall, I truly did enjoy researching this topic and hope that this upcoming February can honor and impact many lives.
My Black History Month vignette is about the African American poet and writer Rita Dove. She was born in Akron, Ohio in 1952. Her parents taught her the value of education at a young age, and she excelled in all her academic ventures. In high school, Rita was named a Presidential Scholar. From there, she went on to attend Miami University in Ohio. She received a Fulbright to study at the University of Tübingen in West Germany. Lastly, she earned her Masters of Fine Arts at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.
As Poet Laureate, she served as the official poet of the United States which means she seeks to raise the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry.
Rita Dove wrote many poems and works that received great praise. She won the Pulitzer Prize for her verse novel Thomas and Beulah. She also received the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets, the Heinz Award in Arts and Humanities, and the Common Wealth Award. In 1996, she received a National Medal in Humanities. In 1993, she served as the Poet Laureate of the United States. She was the youngest poet and first African American Poet to be elected to this position. Now, Rita Dove teaches English at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Rita Dove is an inspiration to people everywhere. She demonstrates how hard work and dedication can lead to a fulfilling life.
Rita Dove is not only important to African American history but all United States history. She was the first African American poet laureate and also the youngest to be elected to the honor. I found this interesting because I love poetry and literature. I read Rita Dove’s poem “Roast Possum,” during my literature class. This poem is important because it shows how the black man was put down by white for so long. Her poems are known for incorporating history and political themes into lyrical writings. Rita Dove’s writings and poems are important because they tell history from a different side and in a different way.
It is important to celebrate those who create, so in the future people can look to them for inspiration. Rita Dove was born in Akron, Ohio a city not too far from here. She shows how it does not matter what background you come from, everyone has something to contribute. Rita Dove is not usually someone mentioned when discussing Black History Month, but she has done so much for our country. As Poet Laureate, she served as the official poet of the United States which means she seeks to raise the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry. The arts in the United States are often viewed as nonimportant subjects, however, expressing creativity through poetry is beautiful. Through Rita Dove’s poetry and writings, readers get to see a different perspective through a creative outlet.