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Shadows from our Past: Triumphs in Black History

Updated: Feb 5, 2023

Dr. Carter G. Woodson initiated the first celebration of Negro History Week on February 7, 1926, dubbing him the "Father of Black History." Born to enslaved parents, Woodson would go on to become an accomplished writer, historian, and the second Black American to earn a Ph.D. at Harvard University. Being the distinguished scholar that he was, Dr. Woodson recognized early that the American education system neglected to provide much information about the accomplishments of Black Americans. It was with this zeal to empower and educate other Black Americans that he founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. In 1926, he proposed the "National Negro History Week." Four decades later, President Gerald Ford expanded Dr. Woodson's week into Black History Month.

I'll never forget the passion with which one of my elementary school teachers used to always stress the famous quote to us, "Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it." This is why black history month is so important. Black history is history. When we apply ourselves to the studying of black history, we not only feed our intellectual wellness by learning from the past and avoid repeating its dark parts, but also commit to inspiring a new generation for new innovation.

Last year's black history month theme was "Black Health and Wellness," and we celebrated here at #EnvisionCoBlog by sharing motivational quotes of famous African Americans throughout history. I hope these articles served their purpose by both educating and inspiring you throughout the month of February. This year we are shaking things up in harmony with the Black History Month theme of 2023, "Black Resistance."

"Lear Green, so particularly advertised in the Baltimore Sun by "James Noble," won for herself a strong claim to a high place among the heroic women of the nineteenth century. ...After a full consideration with her mother and her intended upon the matter, she decided that she must be free in order to fill the station of a wife and mother. For a time dangers and difficulties in the way of escape seemed utterly to set at defiance all hope of success. Whilst every pulse was beating strong for liberty, only one chance seemed to be left, the trial of which required as much courage as it would to endure the cutting off the right arm or plucking out the right eye. An old chest of substantial make, such as sailors commonly use, was procured. A quilt, a pillow, and a few articles of raiment, with a small quantity of food and a bottle of water were put in it, and Lear placed therein; strong ropes were fastened around the chest and she was safely stowed amongst the ordinary freight on one of the Erricson line of steamers....That the silent prayers of this oppressed young woman, together with her faithful protector's were momentarily ascending to the ears of the good God above... "

I definitely do not want to rob you of the opportunity to seeing how this tales ends. But, you know, copyrights. For more on Lear Green and other others who made daring escapes from the grips of slavery, see William Still's book, "The Underground Railroad: Authentic Narratives and First-Hand Accounts" from which these excerpts came. Unfortunately, every tale doesn't have a happy ending and after learning about Miss Lear Green, I found myself asking, was it worth it? Join in the discussion in the comments below and tell me your thoughts about the ending of Lear Green's tale.

Wellness is varied and we cannot exclude intellectual pursuits from our picture of wellness. Please remember though, as you begin this journey, do not worry about getting it perfect; just get it going. Until next time. Happy reading!

Did you know?

Each Black History Month has a special theme. As mentioned earlier in our article, the Black History Month theme for 2023 is "Black Resistance." By resisting, Blacks have achieved triumphs and successes such as the end of chattel slavery, dismantling of the Crow, desegregation of schools, and increasing representation in all levels of government. There is still much to be done. May we combine strategies of the past as a model and marry those with the innovation of the future so that Black lives can be sustained, fortified, and respected.


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