February 21, 2013
Eighty-seven years ago - when black Americans were still terrorized by lynching - black historian Carter G. Woodson had a simple but powerful idea: Designate a week to celebrate the contributions that black Americans had made to their country. Woodson chose the second week of February to commemorate the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Negro History Week, as it was known, was an important development for its time. Back then, official history barely acknowledged the presence of black Americans, while popular culture actively diminished their humanity.
January 6, 2013 |
On the first day of 1863, as the Civil War raged on, President Lincoln proclaimed all the slaves in the rebellious Confederate states to be "forever free. " With his Emancipation Proclamation, whose 150th anniversary the United States celebrates this week, Lincoln made the end of slavery a Civil War goal. As PBS's ambitious documentary miniseries The Abolitionists shows, Lincoln's words came at the end of a decadeslong antislavery campaign led by a tiny group of activists whose fervor alienated them from the mainstream of American life.
June 7, 2012 |
Frederick Douglass Hunter was one of the most popular people on the University of Pennsylvania campus. He fed the students and faculty. As the chef in Penn's dining service, his job was to keep the students and teachers who patronized the school's cafeteria well-fed and happy. And he succeeded beyond their expectations. After all, it was a cafeteria, and cafeterias are not known for gourmet dining. But Frederick Hunter had a flair and a true love of cooking. He provided students with the nutrition they needed to cope with demanding professors — whom he also fed — and with tough exams and the other stresses of college life.
May 10, 2012 |
Martin R. Delany is one of the most interesting people you've never heard of. He was, over the course of a long life (1812-85), a writer, editor, abolitionist, Harvard medical student, physician, judge, acquaintance of John Brown, and the first African American commissioned a major in the Army. He is also widely considered America's first black nationalist, the forerunner of Marcus Garvey, Paul Robeson, and Malcolm X. But unless you're a close student of African American history or 19th-century American literature, chances are very good that you don't know much about Delany, who stands in the long shadow cast by Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, and W.E.B.
February 12, 2012 |
BOSTON - Step into the sanctuary of the African Meeting House and you will walk on the same floorboards where Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, and other prominent abolitionists railed against slavery in the 19th century, and where free black men gathered to shape the famed 54th Massachusetts Regiment to fight in the Civil War. Following a painstaking $9 million restoration, the nation's oldest black church building reopened in December....
February 9, 2012 |
IT'S BLACK History Month, a celebration that began in 1926 as "Negro History Week" and has morphed into a widely recognized and celebrated part of American culture. As a result, schools all around Philadelphia, and in most parts of the country not named Arizona, will pay particular attention to the lives, triumphs and contributions of black people in America. Of course, many people remain infuriated by the idea of Black History Month. "Why isn't there a White History Month?" they often ask me. My answer?
July 20, 2011
By Grant Calder The recently released findings of the 2010 National Assessment of Educational Progress provided another opportunity for the usual hand-wringing about how little American kids know about American history these days. An Inquirer article reported that only 13 percent of the high school seniors who took the test "showed a solid grasp of the subject. " Sounds dismal. But before we give up on this generation, we should ask ourselves a few questions. First, what constitutes "a solid grasp of the subject"?
July 4, 2010
1. h. Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1942. 2. e. William Tecumseh Sherman, 1866. 3. b. Frederick Douglass, July 5, 1852. 4. j. George W. Bush, 2002. 5. a. Barack Obama, 2009. 6. c. Abraham Lincoln, July 7, 1863. 7. d. Bill Clinton, 1996. 8. g. Galusha A. Grow, 1877. 9. f. James Wilson, 1788. 10. i. Ronald Reagan, 1981.
November 2, 2008 |
In December 1859, Abraham Lincoln was asked to help a prospective biographer by providing an account of his life. Lincoln responded with four paragraphs and explained, "There is not much of it for the reason, I suppose, that there is not much of me. " Lincoln's humble summation would set an admirable example of brevity quickly lost on the scholars who have endlessly scrutinized his life. He was assassinated on Good Friday, 1865, and the fulsome appraisals began in laudatory sermons on Easter Sunday.