Black ExperienceBlack HistoryD Kevin McNeir

DC Celebration Committee, ASALH Ramp Up Lessons in Black History

Twenty-Eight Days Not Enough for Cavalcade of Opportunities

Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950), the son of former slaves and known as the “Father of Black History,” did not begin his formal education until almost 20 years of age, but he didn’t let that keep him from eventually becoming the second African American to earn a PhD at Harvard University in 1912.

In addition, aware of the limited information on the accomplishments of Blacks, Dr. Woodson founded what has since been renamed the Association for the Study of African American Life and History [ASALH] in 1915. he Texas Democratic Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee has a long record of supporting workplace safety and nondiscrimination laws, including sponsoring a measure that applies those same standards to Congress, her staff said Thursday.

Later, in 1926, he launched the celebration of Negro History Week that corresponded with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. The celebration would be expanded to include the entire month of February in 1976 during which Americans from all ethnic, religious and social backgrounds glean knowledge from discussions, programs and exhibits dealing with the Black experience in the U.S. and abroad.

The Washington Informer will focus on four themes for each week, beginning Feb. 7 through Feb. 28 – topics that we believe will effectively guide our coverage for the month in both news stories and features.

The themes include: The Beginning: 1619; Black Expressions of Love; Black Migrations (featured in collaboration with ASALH’s 2019 Black History Theme and the organization’s 93rdannual Black history luncheon on Feb. 16); and Blacks and Politics: From Roots in Reconstruction to the Movement, Obama and a Reconfigured CBC.

To start the month on Feb. 1, the DC Black History Celebration Committee, under the leadership of Director Chuck Hicks, will sponsor a Black History Month [BHM] Kickoff Celebration at the African American Civil War Museum in Northwest from 6 to 8 p.m. D.C.

Attorney General Karl Racine will give the keynote address with community awards being presented to the following: Anise Jenkins, executive director, Stand Up Free DC; the Rev. Graylan Hagler, Sr., pastor, Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ; and Sam Ford, WJLA news reporter.

Earlier that day, ASALH will launch its first public event in a yearlong commemoration of the forced migration of Africans to the Virginia Colony in 1619. A stimulating discussion on the meaning of this year in African-American History and in the context of “400 Years of Perseverance” will take place Friday, Feb. 1 at 12:30 p.m. at the National Press Club in Northwest.

Dr. Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, ASALH’s National president and chair of the History Department, Harvard University, will moderate a panel discussion which includes: Professor Gloria Browne-Marshall, ASALH 400th Commemorative chair and professor at John Jay College; Brent Leggs, director of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, of the National Trust for Historic Preservation; Professor Spencer Crew, professor of U.S. History at George Mason University; and Roger A. Fairfax, senior associate dean and research professor of law at George Washington Law School. Greetings will be brought by Lonnie G. Bunch, III, founding director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture and Alison Fitzgerald Kodjak, president of the National Press Club.

But you can find out more about the happenings in the District if you consult with D.C.’s “Mr. Black History” himself, Chuck Hicks, 73, a longtime resident in Southwest, who sat down with The Informer to talk about his role and what’s been planned for this year’s monthlong celebration.

Washington Informer: How long have you been leading this drive to promote BHM events and what are the goals of your committee?

Chuck Hicks: I’ve been doing this for over 25 years. I grew up in a segregated town in the South and knew very little about contributions of African Americans. So, I began to read and study and majored in Black history in college. Our goal remains the same: to celebrate and educate all ethnic groups about the contributions of African Americans.

WI: How have residents of the region responded over the years to your committee’s programming?

Hicks: People have been incredibly supportive. I feel a real sense of pride and obligation to set an example to share as much information about Black history as possible, not only with African Americans but to all ethnic groups. For many years I worked in the Black Studies division at the MLK Library and people expected correct answers from me.

WI: How can people get more information besides the calendar?

Hicks: There will be a calendar in the Washington Informer and on the website listing many of the free events. In addition, the DC Black History Celebration Committee and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities have distributed a pamphlet that lists all of the events that can be picked up at the African American Civil War Museum, DC Public Libraries or the DC Commission on Arts and Humanities. I can also be reached at mrblackhistory@yahoo.com or at 202-421-8608.

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D. Kevin McNeir – Senior Editor

Award-winning journalist and 21-year Black Press veteran, book editor, voice-over specialist and college instructor (Philosophy, Religion, Journalism). Before joining us, he led the Miami Times to recognition as NNPA Publication of the Year.

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