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THIS WEEK IN BLACK HISTORY - FEB. 18-24 (Blog #43)


We know it is important to share Black History with our children, with each other, and with the nation!  Knowledge is power and knowing Black history gives us meaning and a foundation to navigate obstacles in life and find joy in current achievements.  In this third week in Black History Month, we again share events in Black history and honor Black people who have shaped our nation’s history. 


February 18:



Morehouse College, a private, historically Black men’s college, was founded in 1867, two years after the end of the Civil War.  Morehouse was originally founded as Augusta Institute (in Augusta, Georgia) by William Jefferson White (an Atlanta minister), with the support of Rev. Richard Coulter and Rev. Edmund Turney, to educate black men in education and theology. The campus moved to Atlanta in 1879 and was renamed Morehouse College in 1913. Morehouse College is the largest men’s college in the United States and has graduated at least 11 Fulbright Scholars, five Rhodes Scholars, five Marshall Scholars, and many civil rights leaders and leaders in government, politics, science and medicine, education, entertainment and media. 


February 19:



In 1942, the Tuskegee Airmen were initiated into the United States Armed Forces.  The Tuskegee Airmen were a group of black military pilots and airmen trained at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, and who fought in World War II.  During World War II, black people were subject to Jim Crow, and the military was racially segregated.  The Tuskegee Airmen are credited with significant War accomplishments: 1,378 combat missions; 179 bomber escort missions with an outstanding record of protection; 112 enemy aircraft destroyed in the air, 150 on the ground, and 148 damaged; 950 railcars, trucks and motor vehicles destroyed; and destruction of a German destroyer.  The Airmen became heavily decorated for their war-time achievements.    



In 2002, Vonetta Flowers became the first black gold medalist in the Winter Olympic games.  She won the inaugural women’s two-person bobsled event with her partner, Jill Brakken. 





In 1992, John Singleton became the first black and youngest film director to be nominated for an Oscar for film direction and screenplay.  Singleton was nominated for Best Director and Best Screenplay for his film, Boyz n the Hood.  Nominated at age 24, Boyz in the Hood was his feature film debut in writing and directing. 


 

February 20:



In 1955, the City of Montgomery, Alabama police issued warrants for the arrests of numerous civil rights activists for organizing the Montgomery Alabama Bus Boycott, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, JoAnn Robinson, and Rev. Ralph Abernathy.  The Montgomery bus boycott was a civil rights protest of racial segregation on public buses.  The boycott began on December 5, 1965, soon after Rosa Parks, a black woman, was arrested and fined for refusing to give up her seat on the bus to a white man. On the first day of the boycott, about 40,000 black bus riders (over half the city’s bus riders) refused to ride on public buses. 

 

In total, 89 civil rights activists were arrested that day, and indicted, but only Dr. King was prosecuted.  “Despite defense evidence that the boycott was peaceful and that discriminatory bus service inflicted harm on the Black community, Dr. King was convicted, fined $1000, and given a suspended jail sentence.”  On June 5, 1956, a federal district court held that Alabama’s racial segregation law for buses was unconstitutional.  This decision was upheld by the United States Supreme Court on November 13, 1956.  On December 20, 1956, after 382 days, the bus boycott ended.  The Montgomery bus boycott shaped civil rights activism in the 1950s and 60s and put a spotlight on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a leader in the Civil Rights Movement.    




In 1964, Sidney Poitier becomes the first Black actor to win an Oscar for male actor in a leading role.  He won for his performance in “Lillies of the Field.”  See the film’s original trailer here:  Lilies of the Field (1963) Original Trailer [FHD] (youtube.com).



February 21:



Lemuel Hayes was the first black man to be ordained as a minister.  The son of a black man and white woman, Hayes was the first Black minister to lead an all-white congregation.  He led the West Parish Church in Rutland, Vermont for 30 years.  On this day in 1804, he became the first black person to be granted an honorary Master of Arts degree, which was bestowed on him by Middlebury College.    




In 1965, Malcolm X was assassinated at the Harlem Audubon Ballroom in New York.  He was 39.  Malcolm was a prominent Black leader who promoted racial pride and black empowerment.  He was a prominent leader in the Nation of Islam.  Malcolm was shot just before he was to deliver a speech to his newly founded group, the Organization of Afro-American Unity.  His biography, as told to Alex Haley, is set out in the Autobiography of Malcolm X

 


February 22: 



In 1989, DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince won the first Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance for their song, Parents Just Don't Understand.  Two years later, in 1991, this category was split into two categories:  Best Rap Solo Performance and Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group. 

 


February 23:



In 1965, Constance Baker Motley was elected Manhattan Borough President, the highest elective office held by a Black woman in a major American city.  Motley had been an attorney with the NAACP and worked with Thurgood Marshall on the seminal Brown v. Board of Education case, and numerous other school desegregation cases.  She was later appointed, and confirmed, as a federal district court judge in the Southern District of New York. 

 


February 24: 



In 1864, Rebecca Lee Crumpler became the first black woman to receive a medical degree after graduating from the New England Female Medical College. In 1860, there were only 300 women out of 54,543 physicians in the United States, and none were black.


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