Sunday, February 1, 2009

February: The Black History Month


Top: Africans, after their capture from villages, are being led to a European-run coastal slave camp for export to the Americas. They would be tied together as a prevention against their escape. Bottom, left: African slaves like this young one would be encased with a muzzle as a punishment for their insubordination or stealing of food from others. Bottom right: A notice in a newspaper announcing the sale of the newly-arrived black slaves.
Photos Courtesy:
Layout: Joachim Romeo D'Costa

In the USA and Canada, the month of February is observed as the Black History Month. In Britain, it is observed in October. In this month, the people of African origin, living outside Africa, look at their past history and present situation and try to formulate the vision for their future. They also have a closer look at their achievements and contributions as well as struggles and challenges in different fields. The governments and other people in these countries also lend their support and cooperation in observance of this month.

Background of the Black History Month

African-American historian, author and social analyst Dr. Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950) had started the "Negro History Week" in 1926. It was being observed in the second week of February in remembrance of the birthdays of President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) and escaped former slave and slavery abolitionist Frederick Douglass (1818-1895), who contributed immensely toward the causes of the blacks. In the 1970's, Black community leaders and several Black organizations got together to start the Black History Month.

From Slaving to Leadership

The Africans in diaspora have a long history of inhuman degradation, human-rightlessness, deaths, incarceration, starvation and struggle. Gradually, the blacks began to make contributions in different fields, but their full rights as human beings were never restored. For this purpose, the civil rights movement of the blacks, especially in the southern states of the US, became a watershed event in the history of the African-Americans. Baptist pastor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) gave a Mahatma Gandhi-inspired non-violent leadership among the blacks for gaining equal rights with the whites. As a result of this movement, the blacks ultimately gained equal status in the law.

Another historic event of the blacks took place on November 4, 2008, when the Americans elected Senator Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States. The dream of having equal status of the blacks in the US was somewhat fulfilled with the presidency of Barack Obama, but still there are quite a few miles to go before complete realization of his dream in reality for the greater number of common African-Americans.

(L-R) Newly-elected US President Barack Obama
and Black Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Photos Courtesy: (Left) From a website. (Right) LIFE magazine
Layout: Joachim D'Costa
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