Saluting Carter G. Woodson, Father of Black History Month, and ASALH's 2020 History of Voting Theme

The towering achievements of people of African descent can be recognized and celebrated each month, throughout every year. Let’s look at the road that led to a great start in institutionalizing and honoring that past as Black History Month. Let’s also acknowledge the annual invitation to focus on researching a particular aspect of Black history throughout the year. Both are grounded in the work of the great historian, Carter G. Woodson and his organization, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH).
In 1926, Dr. Carter G. Woodson, “The Father of Black History,” created Negro History Week to make people aware of the formidable contributions of Black people in world history. He intended to uplift minds as well as self-regard. As founder of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), Woodson would surely have been delighted to see how teachers, activists, scholars and others, through their collective promotion, caused the growth of Negro History Week into Black History Month in the mid 1970’s. Dr. Woodson would have been pleased to see how Black history is now widely celebrated through February and beyond, in schools, churches, organizations, and across medias around the world.
Carrying forth Dr. Woodson’s tradition of developing a theme for each year, intending to “bring to the public’s attention important developments that merit emphasis,” ASALH has declared 2020 “The Year of African Americans and the Vote.” It invites an exploration of the achievements and sacrifices of Black suffragettes and voting rights activists.
In the spirit of investigating the history of Black voting, the Blacknificent Life! Digital Learning Complex invites you to consider that we each vote every day through the actions we take. For example, when we self-talk, spend money, and text or speak to each other, an aspect of empowerment or disempowerment is likely to occur. What you say about yourself, to yourself, is a vote—for or against your journey to better. Where you spend your dollar  deducts from your riches and adds to someone else’s. Choosing uplifting or demeaning words when communicating with others is certainly a choice or “vote” to contribute to or lessen an expression of personal regard. So, as we embrace the ASALH 2020 history theme focus, let’s also consider a more expanded notion of voting that includes the moment-by-moment choices we make each day. Click below to read more about the wonderful work ASALH has planned for 2020 as we give thanks for the ancestral inspiration of Dr. Carter G. Woodson. Be sure to consider attending or otherwise “voting” to support ASALH’s annual Black History Month Luncheon, February 22, 2020 in Washington, DC.

2020 January Newsletter, History and Culture

Courageous Champions Tommy Smith & John Carlos Inducted into Olympics Hall of Fame

Decades before Colin Kaepernick took a knee and a year after Muhammad Ali was convicted for refusing to serve in the Vietnam War, Olympic Champion sprinters John Carlos and Tommy Smith carried out their courageous plan to bring attention to American racial injustices. It was during the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, as they stood before the world to receive their Olympic medals, when Carlos and Smith boldly raised black gloved fists as a salute to the empowerment of Black people. The oppressive treatment they received after their courageous act had tremendous impact on their families, social lives, and abilities to earn a living. Both men were stripped of the titles they’d just won and banned from competing. Since that time, their challenges and sufferings have been unimaginable, including Carlos’s wife committing suicide after they divorced.
Now, 51 years later, Smith the gold medalist, and Carlos, who won silver, are being inducted into the Olympic and Paralympic Committee’s Hall of Fame with fanfare and apologies. Images of two tall Black men standing even taller, fists raised as a rebuke to the evils of racism and discrimination, will be forever etched in the minds of people across the world. While the official recognition is grievously delayed, the world is prompted to remember when these men triumphed over fears to showcase a rare caliber of manhood and self-respect. Click below to learn more.

2020 January Newsletter, Present Day Achievment

Australian Aborigines Win Reparations

The Northern Territory government of Australia must pay $2.53mn in Australian damages to the Ngaliwurru and Nungali peoples. It is the largest ruling ever on damages for the confiscating of land and water rights of indigenous populations.The ruling says that the government “extinguished” their rights when it ignored Aboriginal title to the land upon which the government built infrastructure in the ‘80s and ‘90s.

This ruling was specifically historic in that $1.3 million of the money was penalty for the infliction of “spiritual or cultural harm.” The government appealed, but The High Court overruled and the indigenous people of the land prevailed! Taking spiritual and cultural damage into account is a first for Australia and perhaps, for most of the world. To learn more about this historic reparations ruling, and how it might inform present restitution efforts around the globe, click below.

2020 January Newsletter, Present Day Achievment

Senegalese Soccer Star Sadio Mane Asks “Why Would I Want 10 Ferrari’s?”

Soccer star Sadio Mane of Senegal has publicly pondered an extraordinary question: “Why would I want ten Ferraris, when I can help my people?” It’s a simple, yet profoundly wise question that many in his tax-bracket rarely ask and answer publicly. But Mane remembers his people and the hard times they have suffered together. A lack of access to food and education left the majority of people in Bambali, his home village, without options for a better life. So Mane imagined himself better options. An international sensation considered one of the best players in soccer, Mane has the means – and motivation – to make a major difference in his community. Most significantly, he relishes the opportunity.
While Mane is a huge star back home, as he is on the world stage, people often say he is as humble and unassuming as he is skilled at his game. Demonstrating the difference one person can make, Mane’s embodiment of mindful self-help is a shining example of the impact Black athletes around the globe can make in their origin communities. Click below to learn more and be inspired to shine your light, brightly—today and always.

2020 January Newsletter, Present Day Achievment

A Tech-Savvy Sister Brings Mobile Banking to People Without Access

Many of us take for granted that we can transfer funds electronically, deposit a check in person, send money to a family member through an app, or purchase items online. But all of these conveniences have something in common – they require a bank account. Surprisingly, in the year 2020, banks in rural areas across the nation are so scarce that many people have no access to one. Enter Sheena Allen, an intrepid young woman from rural Terry, Mississippi who knows firsthand the disenfranchisement and inconvenience of not having a bank account. She founded the company CapWay to meet the needs of these under-served communities. Soon rural residents throughout the country will be able to use their mobile phones to set up checking accounts, send and receive money, and cash checks.
Allen’s company is approved by the FDIC, and with no overdraft charges and a debit card forthcoming, it’s proving popular. A Blacknificent LIfe! salute to Allen for sharing the fruits of her education with the folks back home and their counterparts nationwide! To learn more about this valuable resource, click below.

2020 January Newsletter, Business & Finance Present Day Achievment

AfroFuturist Pens History on Women Who Led Slave Revolts

Rebecca Hall was not buying it – that there were no Black women heroes among the many enslaved people of African descent who led revolts on plantations in the United States. In fact, New York City saw a women-involved insurrection in 1712, after which 21 enslaved people were publicly executed. Among the 21 were four Black women – Amba, Lilly, Sarah, and Abigail. They are among the women to be brought to life in Hall’s upcoming graphic novel, Wake: The Hidden History of Women-Led Slave Revolts.

Wake, illustrated by comic artist Hugo Martinez, is a 150-page novel informed by the author’s 2004 award-winning dissertation. Hall was told these women did not exist, but during 15 years of exhaustive research, she followed her gut belief in the stuff Black women are made of.

Hall believes that depiction in graphic-novel form renders this history accessible and impactful across ages and cultures. The format includes speculative fiction mixed in with known historic accounts. For example, some of her characters are inspired by the real-life Dahomey army that informed the Dora Milaje of the Black Panther movie. Hall’s novel has been picked up by Simon Schuster with a publication date to be announced. Find out more about the manner in which Black women have historically resisted enslavement by clicking on the link provided below.

2020 January Newsletter, Present Day Achievment

Ugandan Invents Game Changing Blood-Free Malaria Test

Twenty-four-year-old phenom Brian Gitta invented a device that detects malaria through a beam of light shone on a patient’s finger. After having four blood tests, which all failed to diagnose his own malaria, Gitta put his engineering mind to work and invented an alternative that could help save
millions of lives.
Gitta calls his breakthrough device Matibabu, which means “treatment” in Kiswahili. The device clips onto a patient’s finger and can be operated by the patient without the assistance of a medical professional. It provides a road to speedily addressing malaria when it develops in vulnerable populations in particular. To learn more about Gitta’s brilliance, the many prestigious awards he has won, and how African genius continues to light the way, click below.

2020 January Newsletter, Present Day Achievment