Celebrate Black History Month By Accentuating the Positives

Accentuating the Positives

“Originally established… 1926 by Carter G. Woodson, a noted African-American author and scholar, this event evolved into the establishment of February as Black History Month in 1976. This commemoration also has been referred to as African-American History Month. Both names are currently in use.

When Woodson established this… he realized the importance of providing a theme to focus the attention of the public. The intention never has been to dictate or limit the exploration of the Black experience, but to bring to the public's attention important developments that merit emphasis.

Since 1926,The Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History (ASALH) has established the national theme for the month long celebration. The National Theme for the celebration in the year 2007 is From Slavery to Freedom” (from US INFO)

From Slavery:
“Charleston, SC was the major point of entry for Africans brought to America in the eighteenth century. Approximately three out of four enslaved Africans came to America through this port city, which had a black majority by 1790. In 1808, the foreign slave trade was abolished, but American-born slaves continued to be bought and sold until the Civil War.” (from The Aiken-Rhett House )

The first cargo of African slaves arrive in Lisbon with Antam Goncalves.
February 7. The first South Carolina law relating solely to slavery is enacted.
September 12. The Reverend Alexander Garden (d. 1773) opened a school for blacks in Charles Town. The purpose was to train them "in principles of Christianity and the fundamentals of education, to serve as schoolmasters to their people."
A black Christian church opens in South Carolina, reflecting the rapid growth of Christianity, the "white man's religion," among American blacks.
1790 SC Federal Census
Slave 107,094
Free Black 1,801
1800 SC Federal Census
Slave 146,151
Free Black 3,18
1810 SC Federal Census
Slave 196,365
Free Black 4,554
1820 SC Federal Census
Slave 258,475
Free Black 6,826
Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on Calhoun Street was closed in response to the Vesey insurrection. Reorganized in 1865, it became a focal point for black political activity.
Daniel A. Payne, a free black, opens a school for black children in Charleston.
1840 SC Federal Census
Slave 327,038
Free Black 8,276
1860 SC Federal Census
Slaves 402,406
Free Blacks 9,914
The Civil War: An estimated 250,000 African Americans, some of whom were slaves, serve as soldiers.
May 13 Robert Smalls, a black pilot, with a black crew sailed in the Confederate steamer Planter out of Charleston and joined the Union Fleet.
November The first black regiment was mustered into service in South Carolina. The First Regiment of South Carolina Volunteers was commanded by Colonel Thomas W. Higginson, a white man from Massachusetts. During the war over 5,000 black South Carolinians joined the Union Army.
June 2 Harriet Tubman leads Union troops in a raid up only time a woman has led American troops in battle.
St. Mark's Episcopal Church, organized by a black congregation, is established in Charleston.
November 13 The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery throughout the United States, is ratified.

(the above time-line is from Milestones in the History of Slavery)

For a more details on slavery in Charleston, SC, “Follow the African American Coastal Heritage trails and explore what our ancestors never imagined would become history” at The African American Coastal Trail

To Freedom:
“Both free and enslaved Africans helped shape Charleston’s economic and cultural life. Their agricultural knowledge is largely responsible for Charleston’s success. Ironwork, handmade sweetgrass baskets, she-crab soup and benne seed cookies are just a few of the well-known artistic and culinary contributions. Gullah, the Sea Island culture and language, continues to survive today.” (Charleston Area Convention and Visitor Bureau)

Serving Our Nation
2.4 million
Number of black military veterans in the United States in 2005. More military veterans are black than any other minority group.
(Source: 2005 American Community Survey. Data pertain to blacks of one race only.)

Among blacks age 25 and older, the proportion that had at least a high school diploma in 2005. In states such as Colorado, the proportion was even higher – 90 percent. (Source: 2005 American Community Survey)
Percentage of blacks age 25 and older who had a bachelor’s degree or more in 2005. In many states, the rate was higher. Twenty-six percent of blacks this age in Colorado, for instance, had this level of education. (Source: 2005 American Community Survey)
1.1 million
Among blacks age 25 and older, the number who had an advanced degree in 2005 (e.g., master’s, Ph.D., M.D. or J.D.). Ten years earlier — in 1995 — only 677,000 blacks had this level of education.
2.3 million
Number of black college students in fall 2004. This was an increase of roughly 1 million from 15 years earlier. U.S. U.S. Census Bureau

$88.6 billion
Revenues for black-owned businesses in 2002, up 24 percent from 1997. The number of black-owned businesses totaled 1.2 million in 2002, up by 45 percent since 1997. Black-owned firms accounted for 5 percent of all nonfarm businesses in the United States.
The number of black-owned firms in New York in 2002, which led all states. New York City alone had 98,080 such firms, which led all cities.
The number of black-owned firms operating in 2002 with receipts of $1 million or more. These firms accounted for 1 percent of the total number of black-owned firms in 2002 and 55 percent of their total receipts, or $49 billion.
The number of black-owned firms with 100 or more employees in 2002. Firms of this size accounted for 24 percent of the total revenue for black-owned employer firms in 2002, or $16 billion.

Homeowership – the American Dream
Nationally, the percentage of black households who lived in owner-occupied homes. The rate was higher in certain states, such as Mississippi, where it reached 56 percent.
(Source: 2005 American Community Survey)

The percentage of blacks age 16 and older who work in management, professional and related occupations. There are 44,000 black physicians and surgeons, 79,400 postsecondary teachers, 45,200 lawyers, and 49,300 chief executives. (Sources: 2005 American Community Survey and Upcoming Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2007, Table 602.)

For more information on the data in this section, see <http://www.census.gov/prod/ec02/sb0200csblk.pdf>

Please note that this is the “18th year BellSouth has spearheaded the initiative, providing educators, parents, and visitors a method of identifying African-American role models for all youth, honoring notable African-American achievers with ties to South Carolina” at BellSouth in South Carolina.

Honorees like Marjorie Amos-Frazier, “The first woman to be elected to the Charleston County Council in 1974, she went on to even greater triumphs six years later when she was elected commissioner on the South Carolina Public Service Commission. Until that time, the commission had been a bastion of the state's white male legislators.”

On a personal note, I would like to add; born in Ohio –I had many African American Friends whom my Family and I would share in the enjoyment of playing together, dining, church attendance, school activities, picnics, sports, etc. As a child I never knew the world had racial lines. It wasn’t until about 1975, age 13 when we moved to Beaufort, SC and I attended the school Robert Smalls that I first heard the word ‘riot’. Isn't it sad my Readers that throughout history, humans - with all our knowledgeable intelligence have been far crueler to our own humankind, than any beast? Yet, thankfully the human race continues to persevere. Maybe because there are enough individuals, or communities, or positive efforts … to really make a difference! So lets just keep doing the best we can, rather as individuals or together - for the greater plan – and in the process let us never forget our roots, no matter where they began - for they were the seedlings of today’s many dreams come true.

"All men and women are born, live suffer and die; what distinguishes us one from another is our dreams, whether they be dreams about worldly or unworldly things, and what we do to make them come about... We do not choose to be born. We do not choose our parents. We do not choose our historical epoch, the country of our birth, or the immediate circumstances of our upbringing. We do not, most of us, choose to die; nor do we choose the time and conditions of our death. But within this realm of choicelessness, we do choose how we live."
by Joseph Epstein

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