Can you imagine being born into the world only to soon have your life controlled by someone else because of the color of your skin? This was not something that began with you but was something that trickled down through your family from generation to generation. Stated in the “Black History Timeline,” “To satisfy the labor needs of the rapidly growing North American colonies, white European settlers turned in the early 17th century from indentured servants (mostly poorer Europeans) to a cheaper, more plentiful labor source: enslaved Africans.” Although there are many inspiring aspects from the history of African Americans, not every accomplishment was an easy process.
It is nearly impossible to give an accurate number of individuals that were sold into slavery. However, according to the video, Black History: Origins of Slavery, “By 1860, a million humans were being moved and sold in the colonies.” This demonstrates that slavery spread quickly throughout the black American culture. Slavery became legalized in 1641, making it legal to hold African Americans captive as personal property and potentially owned for life against their will. Black History: Origins of Slavery mentions, “As slave trade grew so did opposition, and eventually America became a country divided against itself.” On the other hand, many assumed that moving to the North would provide them with a lifestyle with less struggle and dictatorship. Found in an online database, the article, “African American History: 1900-1955,” references that, “In 1909, The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was formed…new industrial jobs opened to black in the North.” This gave African Americans a boost of independence, dignity and integrity. This was not viewed as an accomplishment for the African Americans, in fact, “…the achievements of African Americans were almost totally ignored by the country’s historians. Black Americans figured in the history books chiefly as slaves- people with no cultural history an no promise for the future.” (“Carter G. Woodson”). African Americans were still being treated unequally, however, the future was fairly optimistic for blacks.
Black History Month, celebrated each year throughout the month of February, has given African American children and adults all over the world the opportunity to communicate the success of black Americans. This has been possible through verbal, written, and visual communication. According to the article “Black History Month,” “The story of Black History Month begins in 1915, half a century after the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in the United States.” February was chosen as the month designated to honor the leaders of the black community and all of its accomplishments. As years progressed, by 1926, the Association of the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) was approved to launch Negro History Week in hopes of soon developing it into a set month. The online article “Black History Month,” claims that, “…the ASALH sponsored a national Negro History Week in 1926, choosing the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.” This makes for a celebration of African American culture along with the birth two great leaders. Because of the assumption of the horrific way that African Americans were treated, “since 1976, every American president has designated February as Black History Month and endorsed a specific theme.” (“Black History Month”).
The theme of Black History Month 2018 was “African Americans in Times of War” which marked the 100th year anniversary of World War I ending. It honored the roles of all of the African Americans who played in warfare. Not only is February set aside to celebrate and honor African American history, but June 19th which is recognized as Juneteenth was founded to also celebrate and recognize the remembrance to the end of slavery in the United States. On this day, African Americans host events and parades as a way of celebrating. On June 19, 2018, President Trump made the statement to USA Today, “As a Nation, we vow to never forget the millions of African Americans who suffered the evils of slavery.” This has been the mindset of many presidents prior to President Donald Trump. This is important to show a united front on this matter beginning with those that are ahead of our country.
Of course there were many individuals behind the success of African Americans the helped grant the opportunity to give African Americans the equal rights that everyone one else had. Leaders from all over the world have demonstrated what it means to stand on the things that you believe in. People such as Martin Luther King Jr. (America) , Nelson Mandela (South Africa), Frederick Douglass (America), and Carter G. Woodson (America). Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who was a social activist, was at the forefront for equal and human rights for African Americans. According to the article, “Famous Black People Who Changed The World,” states that, “During the 1950’s and 1960’s, he sought to improve race relations and overturn discrimination in American society.”(Pettinger). Dr. King advocated for justice and peace until the date of his death in 1968. His sacrifice showed his dedication to freedom and righteousness. Nelson Mandela also contributed to end struggle for the African culture. He was the first black president of South Africa looking to end economical and political separation. He stood up for his people to make a change for his country. In fact, stated in the online article, “Nelson Mandela,” “His negotiation in the early 1990’s with South African Pres. F.W. de Klerk helped end the country’s apartheid system of racial segregation and ushered in a peaceful transition to majority rule.” This proves that this is important to fight can make a difference if you just speak up.
Frederick Douglass was also one who fought to end struggle and experienced it first hand through slavery. Frederick Douglass was known for many inspiring quotes, one being, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” (“Frederick Douglass”). This is evidence that accomplishments require hard work but also sacrifice. Frederick Douglass sacrificed friendships for freedom which was tough for him to do. According to the novel, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, he states that, “it is impossible for me to describe my feelings as the time of my contemplated start drew near. I had a number of warmhearted friends in Baltimore,–friends that I loved almost as I did my life,–and the thought of being separated from them forever was painful beyond expression. It is my opinion that thousands would escape from slavery, who now remain, but for the strong cords of affection that bind them to their friends. The thought of leaving my friends was decidedly the most painful thought with which I had to contend.” Friendships or any sort of relationship is something to never take for granted so it is very important to cherish them.
Close relationships was not as important to Carter G. Woodson as they were for people like Frederick Douglass. Carter G. Woodson was dedicated to his work and the impact he made in the community. Woodson specifically stated, “I don’t have time to marry. I’m married to my work.” (“Carter G. Woodson”). This shows that he was all about his work and not much play. He spent most of his time focusing on education for himself and other African American citizens. According to the article “Carter G. Woodson”, “Because of Woodson’s trailblazing efforts, there is now black studies programs in schools and universities throughout the country. And there is one month each year when the entire nation celebrates its African American culture.” This provided a bright future for students of the black culture without being denied a great education because of the color of their skin.
Being a person of color was not an easy lifestyle in the early 1800’s. African Americans had to deal with being sold into slavery, denial of equal rights, lack of education, and much sacrifice to make a difference. This is no longer a disadvantage for African Americans and is now viewed as an accomplishment for the American culture. African Americans now have at will independence to freely display to the world. The month of February has been set aside to show the greatness of the African American culture and all of their accomplishments. This is also celebrated every year on June 19th throughout the world with parades and various events to never forget the end of slavery and those who played a part in making this happen. Because of great people such as; Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Frederick Douglass, and Carter G. Woodson who fought for equality to establish a great future for those that will come behind them, much change has taken place since then and will continue until the end of time.
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