Black History Month: The Present Is Important Too
February 10, 2015
Everyone meditates in their own way; for me it's 15 minutes at Gold's Gym in the steam room. Sometimes I turn the light out and sit there to relax. Some of the guys just assume the light is broken and come in regardless. I love it because no one can see faces and occasionally I get to hear conversations not meant for all ears. Last Friday as I soaked up the eucalyptus-infused steam, a couple of gentlemen in mid-discussion came in. They were discussing Ferguson and Black History Month. I overheard them say "Since we finally have a Black President, it isn't necessary to keep rehashing so much of the past. Bringing up all that negative stuff just causes a lot of anger." My bottle of water was empty which meant it was time for me to leave; those two were still talking as I left. I could not resist flipping the light back on and poking my head back in to say "Interesting conversation, guys." It was so funny, neither man was African-American and their faces were red as beets (I don't think it was the steam.)
I understood their point, but yes, regardless of how many accomplishments or setbacks, it is necessary to continue Black History Month -- the pain and strife, the fight for equality, moments of achievement, and the continued struggle to not allow us to regress. Heritage and history makes for a better understanding and growth. The history of African-Americans is an American story which continues to add new chapters each day.
Thanks to today's 24-hour news cycle we are all caught up on the glamourous and the tragic, so I am going to tell you about some African-Americans you need to know.
Dr. Danielle Lee
She specializes in biology. Her "The Urban Scientist" blog is published in Scientific American. Another one of her blogs "Urban Science Adventures," won the 2009 Black Weblog Best Science Award. Among her many honors, is the 2011 St. Louis Urban League's Young Professional of the Year.
M.K. Asante Jr.
A 31-year-old college professor, writer and filmmaker. He has authored four books and three films. One of his films, "The Black Candle," was narrated by the late Maya Angelo. Asante has been published in USA Today, Huffington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle and the New York Times. He has also lectured at Harvard, Yale and Stanford. Asante is currently professor of creative writing and Film at Morgan State University in Baltimore.
A self-confessed nerd and a product of the Chicago public school system. He received an undergrad degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Southern California.
After several successful stints in corporate America, he co-founded Project Syncere, an educational not-for-profit organization dedicated to exposing inner-city minorities and underserved communities to the importance of math and science.
At 15 he is a talented African-American violinist from Atlanta. His list of awards and titles are impressive. As an eighth grader, he ranked first place at the Heritage Music Festival in Florida, winning the Maestro Award for best solo.
Dr. Avis Jones-DeWeever
The author of "Black Women In The Wake Of Katrina" and "Women's Empowerment." She is the President/CEO of Incite Unlimited, a consulting firm dedicated to moving ideas to effect action. Previously Dr. Avis was the Executive Dir. of the National Council of Negro Women, our country's oldest organization dedicated to the advancement of both civil and women's rights.
She is 17 and is one of the top chess players in the world. This Brooklyn, NY native is a high school senior now, but her name is still at the top of Intermediate School 318′s list of best players. She is on the verge of becoming the first black American female to earn the title of chess master.
In 2011 she made history by becoming the youngest person, at age 16, to complete an undergraduate degree at Liberty University in Virginia. Now 19, she most recently became the youngest person to qualify as a barrister in the United Kingdom. Her other interests include fashion and Turnquest currently attends the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles.
The Exec. Director of ColorOfChange.org, the nation's largest online civil rights organization. The organization has been at the forefront of issues ranging from fighting for justice for Trayvon Martin, to battling attempts to suppress the Black vote. Robinson spearheaded ColorOfChange's American Legislative Council (ALEC) national campaign. After ColorOfChange exposed ALEC's involvement in passing discriminatory voter ID and harmful Shoot First laws, over 50 corporate funders ended their financial support of ALEC.
This talented woman is President of Urban music/co-head of creative at Universal Music Publishing Group U.S. Formerly EVP of the division; she co-heads UMPG's overall creative operations in the U.S. with Monti Olson, EVP/Head of Pop & Rock music.
Jaylen Bledsoe is 15 and lives in Hazelwood, MO. At 13 , Bledsoe started his own tech company, Bledsoe Technologies, specializing in Web design and other IT service. He has since expanded it into a global enterprise now worth around $3.5 million.
These were just some of the new Black History makers, for a look back at past history follow these links. http://www.allaccess.com/coaches-corner/archive/18283/the-history-of-black-history-month or http://www.allaccess.com/urbanizing/archive/12654/black-history-month-2012-part-iv---a-rising-tide