Hot Topics

It’s Caribbean-American Heritage Month!

 

June is Caribbean-American Heritage Month, a time to celebrate the rich history, culture, and achievements of Caribbean Americans and their contributions to American culture, ingenuity and history. This year’s theme is “Celebrating Caribbean Contributions to American History, Culture, and Life.”

“Caribbean Americans are dreamers and doers, always finding ways to push our country forward, reach new heights, and forge a more perfect Union. From the Caribbean Americans who helped build our country from the ground up to those who have only just arrived, they have all believed in the possibilities our country has to offer and strengthened the diverse fabric of our Nation. Above all, Caribbean Americans are leaders — they are our beloved doctors, nurses, teachers, athletes, artists, community organizers, entrepreneurs, and our service members and first responders, who put their lives on the line to keep the rest of us safe.” -The 2024 White House Proclamation on Caribbean-American Heritage Month

History

The Caribbean-American community is one of the most diverse in the United States, with people from over 30 different countries of origin. Caribbean Americans began immigrating to the United States in large numbers in the 19th century, and their numbers have continued to grow in recent decades. Today, there are over 4 million Caribbean Americans living in the United States. 

Culture

Caribbean-American culture is a vibrant mix of African, European, and indigenous influences. This is reflected in the music, food, dance, and literature of the Caribbean-American community.

Achievements

Caribbean Americans have made significant contributions to the United States in all fields of endeavor. They have served with distinction in the military, government, and business. They have also made important contributions to the arts, sciences, and sports.

Trailblazers

Charles L. Reason was born in 1818, in New York City, to Haitian and Guadaloupean parents. Reason was the first black college professor in the United States, teaching at the integrated New York Central College from 1849 to 1852. In 1847, he co-founded the Society for the Promotion of Education among Colored Children, and he devoted his life to education and the abolition of slavery and segregation.

Born in 1924 to a Guyanese American father and a Barbadian American mother in New York, Shirley Chisholm was a groundbreaking politician and an outspoken advocate for equality. She was the first Black candidate for a major American party’s presidential nomination and the first Black woman elected to the U.S. Congress, a position she held for 14 years.

Dr. Antonia Novello was born in 1944, in Fajardo, Puerto Rico. She served as the U.S. Attorney General from 1990 to 1993 under President George Bush, making her the first person of Latin American descent and the first woman to do so.

Colin Luther Powell was born in New York in 1937 to Jamaican immigrants. After growing up in the South Bronx, Powell attended the City College of New York, where he participated in ROTC, leading the precision drill team and attaining the top rank offered by the corps, cadet colonel. He was the first African American appointed as the U.S. Secretary of State and the first, and so far the only, to serve on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Dr. Roy Hastick was born in Grenada in 1950 and migrated to the United States in 1972. He served as an elected delegate to the White House Conference on Small Business and as a special delegate to the United Nations. In 1985, he founded the Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry, whose mission is to promote economic development and small business services.

Through the leadership of these individuals and others like them, we’ve seen expanded opportunities and better working conditions for all of America’s workers. – U.S. Dept. of Labor Blog

Celebrating Caribbean-American Heritage Month

There are many ways to celebrate Caribbean-American Heritage Month. You can attend cultural events, learn about Caribbean history and culture, and support Caribbean-American businesses. You can also use this month as an opportunity to reflect on the contributions that Caribbean Americans have made to the United States.

Here are some ideas for celebrating Caribbean-American Heritage Month:

  • Attend a Caribbean festival or carnival
  • Visit a Caribbean restaurant
  • Listen to Caribbean music
  • Watch a Caribbean movie
  • Read a book by a Caribbean-American author – Jeanette Lenoir will be reading her book, Maggie Is Afraid Of Heights, at the Brigadier General Charles E. McGee Library (Silver Spring Library). 
  • Support Caribbean-American businesses
  • Learn about Caribbean history and culture
  • Share your own Caribbean-American story

Juneteenth: Oldest Celebration of Slavery’s End in America

Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, is an annual holiday commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in the United States. It is celebrated on June 19th, the anniversary of the day in 1865 when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, and announced that the enslaved people of the state were free. This news came more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863.

Juneteenth is Wednesday, June 19, 2024! Juneteenth was first recognized by the state of Texas. It is also known as “Freedom Day,” “Juneteenth National Independence Day,” or “Emancipation Day.”

Why is Juneteenth significant in American history?

Juneteenth is a significant date in American history for several reasons:

  • It marks the end of slavery in the United States, which was a major turning point in the nation’s history.
  • It is a reminder of the long and difficult struggle for freedom and equality for African Americans in the United States.
  • It is a celebration of African American culture and heritage.
  • It is an opportunity to reflect on the progress that has been made in race relations in the United States, and to recommit to the work that still needs to be done to achieve true equality.

How is Juneteenth celebrated?

Juneteenth is celebrated in a variety of ways across the United States. Some common activities include:

Juneteenth is a time for African Americans to come together and celebrate their freedom and culture. It is also a time for all Americans to reflect on the history of slavery in the United States and to recommit to the work of achieving racial justice and equality.

Why is Juneteenth important today?

Juneteenth is important today for several reasons:

  • It is a reminder of the ongoing struggle for racial justice and equality in the United States.
  • It is an opportunity to educate people about the history of slavery and its lasting impact.
  • It is a time to celebrate the progress that has been made in race relations, and to recommit to the work that still needs to be done.

Juneteenth is a day for all Americans to come together and celebrate the freedom and equality of all people.

“Now I’ve been free, I know what a dreadful condition slavery is. I have seen hundreds of escaped slaves, but I never saw one who was willing to go back and be a slave.” –Harriet Tubman (1820–1913), American abolitionist and political activist.

The U.S. Marks Philippine Independence Day

 

Filipino-Americans across the United States celebrated Philippine Independence Day on June 12, every year with parades, festivals, and other events.

The day commemorates the anniversary of the proclamation of the Philippine Declaration of Independence from Spain in 1898. It is a national holiday in the Philippines and is also celebrated by Filipino communities around the world. This years theme is, Preserving Our Filipino Culture and Heritage to Unite Generations“.

In the United States, Filipino-Americans can trace their lineage back to the days before America was a country.

“… throughout history, there has been one largely forgotten ingredient missing from this rich cultural stew: before the US was a country, Filipinos were likely living in raised stilt bahay kubo-like homes built over the swampland outside New Orleans.

From these “floating villages” they established the community’s fishing industry and introduced Louisiana to dried shrimp – produced by boiling, brining and sun-drying the crustaceans to preserve and concentrate their flavour. Dried shrimp were an important commodity in the days before refrigeration, and today, many locals still eat them as a snack or use them as an umami-rich ingredient to flavour stocks, sauces and gumbos.” – Stephanie Jane Carter

Snapshot of Filipino American History in America:

  • Filipino American History Month is celebrated in the United States during the month of October.
  • In 1991, Filipino American National Historical Society board of trustees proposed the first annual Filipino American History Month to commence in October 1992.
  • October was declared Filipino Heritage Month in California and Hawaii in 1988, and the California Department of Education officially recognized October as Filipino Heritage Month in 2006.

Filipino-Americans also faced racism in America. 

Part of the reason Filipinos were depicted so negatively in the early 20th century was because of the global political climate and the relationship between the United States and the Philippines. Shortly after the Spanish American War was over and the United States gained possession of the Philippines, political cartoons such as the one titled “The White Man’s Burden” from The Journal, Detroit began to spring up, depicting the United States as a paternal figure forcibly carrying a Filipino to a schoolhouse.” – Filipinos Depicted in American Culture

Larry Itliong may not be as well-known a name as Cesar Chavez, but his role among Filipino-American workers was as critical in the 1965-1970 Delano grape strike—if not more.

“The first big wave of Filipino migration to the U.S. came between the two world wars. According to the book Little Manila is in the Heart by Dawn Mabalon, more than 31,000 Filipinos came to California between 1920 and 1929, many in search of agricultural work. Most came from rural areas of the Philippines, having sold off farm animals, crops and small parcels of land in order to fund the 7,000-plus-mile journey across the Pacific.” – History.com

Renderings from an 1883 Harper’s Weekly story paint a vivid picture of this early Filipino settlement (Credit: Alpha Stock/Alamy)

Filipino-Americans mark Philippines Independence Day with a variety of events, including:

  • Parades: Parades were held in cities across the country, including New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago. The parades featured colorful floats, marching bands, and traditional Filipino dances.
  • Festivals: Festivals were held in parks and community centers across the country. The festivals featured Filipino food, music, and dancing.
  • Cultural events: Cultural events, such as art exhibits, film screenings, and lectures, were held at libraries, museums, and universities.
  • Family gatherings: Many Filipino-Americans celebrated the day with family gatherings, where they enjoyed traditional Filipino food and music.

Philippine Independence Day is a time for Filipino-Americans to reflect on their heritage and to celebrate the achievements of the Filipino people. It is also a time to come together as a community and to build bridges with other cultures.

Filipino-American Lawmakers: 

Celebrate Life This Cancer Survivors Month

Cancer Survivors Month is an annual event held in June to recognize and celebrate the strength and resilience of cancer survivors, as well as to raise awareness about the challenges they face.

Here are some key things to know about Cancer Survivors Month:

  • It is a time to celebrate. Cancer Survivors Month is a time to celebrate the lives of those who have survived cancer. It is a time to recognize their strength, courage, and resilience.
  • It is a time to raise awareness. Cancer Survivors Month is also a time to raise awareness about the challenges that cancer survivors face. These challenges can include physical, emotional, and financial hardships.
  • There are many ways to get involved. There are many ways to get involved in Cancer Survivors Month. You can:
    • Attend a Cancer Survivors Day event in your community.
    • Volunteer your time at a cancer support organization.
    • Donate to a cancer research organization.
    • Share your story of survival.
  • Cancer survivors are an inspiration. Cancer survivors are an inspiration to us all. They show us that it is possible to overcome adversity and live a full and meaningful life. 

Here are some additional facts about cancer survivors:

  • There are over 16.9 million cancer survivors in the United States.
  • The number of cancer survivors is expected to grow to over 20 million by 2026.
  • Cancer survivors are more likely to experience chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.
  • Cancer survivors are also more likely to experience mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression.

Cancer Survivors Month is an important time to recognize and celebrate the strength and resilience of cancer survivors. It is also a time to raise awareness about the challenges they face. By getting involved in Cancer Survivors Month, you can help to make a difference in the lives of cancer survivors.

America’s Dragon Boat Festivals Honors Patriotic Poet & Chinese Culture

Dragon boat festivals are a vibrant and colorful tradition celebrated in various cities across the United States. These festivals bring together communities to commemorate the ancient Chinese legend of Qu Yuan, a patriotic poet who drowned himself in the Miluo River in protest against government corruption.

Today, dragon boat festivals in America are not only a celebration of Chinese culture but also a platform for cultural exchange and inclusivity. Here are some key aspects of dragon boat festivals in the U.S.:

  1. Cultural Significance:
    • Dragon boat festivals honor the legacy of Qu Yuan and his unwavering spirit of patriotism.
    • They symbolize unity, strength, and the triumph of good over evil.
  2. Competitive Dragon Boat Races:
    • The highlight of the festivals is the thrilling dragon boat races, where teams of paddlers compete in long, narrow, and elaborately decorated boats.
    • Teams paddle in unison to the rhythm of drums, creating an impressive spectacle.
  3. Cultural Performances and Activities:
    • Festivals feature a variety of cultural performances, including traditional Chinese dances, music, martial arts demonstrations, and lion dances.
    • Attendees can also enjoy food stalls offering a range of authentic Chinese delicacies.
    • “Today, rice dumplings are eaten on the day of the Dragon Boat Festival, which is commemorated each year on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. Four days before the festival begins, the dragon boats are taken from their resting places and their heads and tails attached. They are then ritually blessed by a Buddhist monk and later brought to life before the races by having their eyes dotted in red paint.”

4. Community Involvement:

    • Dragon boat festivals are inclusive events that attract people from all backgrounds and ethnicities.
    • They provide an opportunity for communities to come together, celebrate diversity, and foster cultural understanding.

5. Major Cities with Dragon Boat Festivals:

      • Some major cities in the U.S. with notable dragon boat festivals include New York City, San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia, and San Diego.

6. Popular Venues:

        • Dragon boat festivals are often held in scenic waterways or lakes, providing a picturesque backdrop for the races and cultural performances.

Dragon boat festivals in the United States are a vibrant celebration of Chinese culture and heritage, showcasing the rich diversity of the American cultural landscape. They are a spectacle of color, sound, and tradition that bring communities together in a spirit of unity and inclusivity.

To learn more about this year’s Dragon Boat Festival or to register and join the celebrations, click HERE. And to learn more about the legacy of Qu Yuan, click HERE.

June is Black Music Month

June is Black Music Month, a time to celebrate the rich and diverse musical heritage of African Americans in the United States. Black music has had a profound impact on American culture, from the spirituals of the enslaved people to the blues, jazz, gospel, R&B, soul, hip-hop, and more. 

Black music has also been a powerful force for social change. During the Civil Rights Movement, songs such as “Strange Fruit,” “We Shall Overcome” and “Mississippi Goddam” became anthems of the movement. In the 1970s, artists like James Brown and Marvin Gaye used their music to speak out against poverty, inequality, and discrimination. And in recent years, artists like Kendrick Lamar and Beyoncé have used their platforms to raise awareness of issues such as police brutality and racial injustice.

Black Music Month is a time to celebrate the contributions of Black musicians and the impact of Black music on the world. Here are some ways to celebrate:

  • Listen to Black music. There are many ways to do this, such as streaming music online, listening to the radio, or attending concerts.
  • Attend Black music concerts and festivals. This is a great way to support Black musicians and experience Black music live.
  • Support Black musicians by purchasing their music. Buying music from Black artists is a great way to show your support and help them continue to make music.
  • Learn about the history of Black music. There are many resources available online and in libraries that can help you learn more about the history of Black music.
  • Share your favorite Black music with others. This is a great way to spread the word about Black music and help others discover new artists.

Black Music Month is a time to celebrate the rich musical legacy of African Americans in the United States. By listening to Black music, attending concerts, and supporting Black musicians, we can all help to keep this legacy alive.

NJPAC: The Promise of Juneteenth

About the New Jersey Reparations Council

New Jersey has been called the “slave state of the North” for its deeply embedded history of slavery, and as such, the New Jersey Reparations Council was established as a state-level body responsible for studying and developing recommendations for reparations to address the harms caused by slavery and its legacy in New Jersey. The council was established by the New Jersey Legislature in 2021 under the New Jersey Reparations Act.

The first-of-its-kind New Jersey Reparations Council was convened by the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice on Juneteenth 2023 to finally confront and repair the deep and often overlooked history of slavery in New Jersey and its lasting impact on the contemporary life of Black people in the state.”

Mission

The mission of the New Jersey Reparations Council is to develop a comprehensive plan for reparations to address the harms caused by slavery and its legacy in New Jersey. The council will consider the historical, social, and economic impacts of slavery on African Americans in New Jersey and will make recommendations for reparations that are fair and equitable.

Membership

The New Jersey Reparations Council is composed of 15 members, all of whom are appointed by the Governor of New Jersey. The members of the council include:

  • Nine African Americans who are descendants of enslaved people in New Jersey
  • Three representatives from organizations that advocate for reparations
  • Three experts in the fields of history, sociology, or economics

Work of the Council

The New Jersey Reparations Council is currently in the process of gathering evidence and hearing testimony from stakeholders. The council is also conducting research on the historical, social, and economic impacts of slavery and its legacy in New Jersey. The council is expected to issue a final report with recommendations for reparations by the end of 2024. The council recently announced its “Promise of Juneteenth: New Jersey Repartitions Council Year One” panel discussion on June 19, 2024 at 7:00PM

The New Jersey Reparations Council is a significant step toward addressing the harms caused by slavery and its legacy in New Jersey. The council’s work could have a major impact on the lives of African Americans in New Jersey and could help to create a more just and equitable society

OTD: The Shooting of James Meredith

On June 6, 1966, James Meredith, a civil rights activist and the first African-American student to enroll at the University of Mississippi, was shot and seriously wounded by a white supremacist during a march in Mississippi.

Meredith had set out from Memphis, Tennessee, on a 220-mile march to Jackson, Mississippi, to protest the continued segregation of the state’s schools and public facilities. He was accompanied by a group of civil rights workers and supporters, both Black and white.

On the second day of the march, as the group was walking along a highway in Grenada County, Mississippi, they were ambushed by a group of white men. Meredith was shot in the back and abdomen, and several other marchers were also injured.

Meredith was rushed to the hospital in critical condition, but he eventually recovered from his injuries. The shooting sparked outrage and protests across the country, and it helped to focus national attention on the issue of civil rights in Mississippi.

The shooting of James Meredith was a turning point in the civil rights movement. It helped to galvanize support for the movement and contributed to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which outlawed discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations.

The19th Amendment And Women’s Suffrage Leaders Excluded Black Women

The passage of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution on Aug 18, 1920, marked a monumental milestone in American history. It granted women the right to vote, a fundamental democratic right that had been denied to them for centuries. However, racist policies often kept Black women out of the suffragist movement led by white women.

Did the 19th Amendment enable all women the right to vote?

On paper, the Amendment protected discrimination against all women, but in practice, it only gave white women the right to vote. Black women, Native American women, Asian American women, and women from other racial and ethnic minority groups were discriminated against for 45 more years until the passage of The Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA). The VRA afforded crucial protections to Black, Indigenous, and Women of Color (BIWOC) voters. And, women with disabilities only gained protections in 1990 with the Americans with Disabilities Act. – Rock The Vote

The National Association of Colored Women‘s Clubs Inc. was established in 1896 as a merger between the National League of Colored Women and the National Federation of Afro-American Women. The organization functioned as an umbrella group for local and regional Black women’s organizations. 

Background:

  • The women’s suffrage movement had been gaining momentum for decades, with suffragists tirelessly campaigning for equal voting rights.
  • Notable figures such as Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Alice Paul played pivotal roles in organizing and leading the movement.

Legislative Process:

  • The 19th Amendment was first introduced in Congress in 1878, but it took years of lobbying and advocacy before it gained significant support.
  • The amendment was passed by the House of Representatives in 1918 and by the Senate in 1919, fulfilling the two-thirds majority requirement.
  • On Aug 18, 1920, the amendment was ratified by the required number of states, becoming part of the Constitution.

Impact:

  • The 19th Amendment had a profound impact on American society, empowering in practice only white women to participate in the democratic process and contribute to shaping the nation’s future.
  • It marked a significant victory for the women’s rights movement, (in spite of its racist implementation and practice) and paved the way for further advancements in gender equality.

Legacy:

  • The 19th Amendment stands as a testament to the resilience, determination, and unwavering commitment of women who fought for their right to be heard and to have a say in their own governance.
  • It continues to inspire generations of women and advocates of social justice worldwide.

Excerpts from African & Black History:

Sojourner Truth wasn’t just a voice for abolition, she was a powerful advocate for women’s rights as well. Her iconic “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech directly confronted the exclusion of Black women from suffrage, highlighting the hypocrisy of arguments used to deny them the vote. By connecting the struggles of enslaved people and women, Truth saw both groups as deserving of equal rights, including voting rights. Her courage and activism inspired other women and broadened the suffrage movement, raising awareness and demanding equality for all women.

Harriet Tubman was a staunch supporter of women’s suffrage, giving speeches about her experiences as an enslaved woman at various anti-slavery conventions, out of which the voting rights movement emerged.

Ida B. Wells was one of our nation’s foremost critics of racial injustice through her journalistic and philanthropic endeavors. She co-founded the Alpha Suffrage Club in Chicago in 1913 to educate Black women on how to cultivate Black candidates and ensure their votes. She also marched in the 1913 women’s parade in Washington, D.C., which would come to be regarded as a milestone in the history of the 19th Amendment.

Daisy Lampkin was instrumental for women’s voting rights. She was president of Negro Women’s Franchise League in 1915 and an active organizer with NAACP & National Association of Colored Women. She promoted interest in suffrage among Black women in Pittsburgh.

Mary Church Terrell was a pioneering figure in the fight for racial equality and women’s suffrage. She was one of the first African-American women to earn a college degree, earning both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. Her life’s work focused on the idea of racial uplift.

Dr. Anna Julia Haywood Cooper was one of North Carolina’s early, outspoken Black woman suffragists. She advocated for civil rights for Black Americans, and her 1892 book, “A Voice from the South: By a Black Woman of the South,” is considered the first Black feminist publication. Dr. Cooper made contributions to social science fields, particularly in sociology. She is sometimes called “The Mother Of Black Feminism.”

You can help support the African & Black History page thrive on by clicking HERE. Also follow the page on X @AfricanArchives. 

OTD: Civil Rights Icon Angela Davis Acquitted of All Charges in 1972

On June 4, 1972, Angela Davis was acquitted of all charges related to a 1970 courthouse shootout that left four people dead. Davis, a prominent civil rights activist and member of the Black Panther Party, was accused of providing the guns used in the shootout, which occurred during an attempt to free three inmates from the Marin County Courthouse in San Rafael, California.

The trial of Angela Davis was a major event in the civil rights movement of the 1970s. Davis’ acquittal was seen as a victory for the movement, and she became a symbol of the struggle for justice.

Background of the Case

In 1970, Davis was a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She was also a member of the Black Panther Party, a revolutionary organization that advocated for the self-defense of African Americans.

On August 7, 1970, three inmates—Jonathan Jackson, William Christmas, and James McClain—attempted to escape from the Marin County Courthouse. During the escape attempt, a shootout occurred between the inmates and the police. Four people were killed in the shootout, including Judge Harold Haley, inmate Jonathan Jackson, and two jurors.

Davis was not present at the shootout, but she was accused of providing the guns used in the escape attempt. She was arrested on October 13, 1970, and charged with conspiracy to murder, kidnapping, and aggravated assault.

The Trial

Davis’ trial began on March 8, 1972. The prosecution presented evidence that Davis had purchased the guns used in the escape attempt and that she had been in contact with the inmates involved in the shootout.

Davis’ defense team argued that she was not involved in the escape attempt and that the prosecution’s case was based on circumstantial evidence. They also argued that Davis was a political prisoner and that her trial was politically motivated.

The Verdict

After a three-month trial, the jury acquitted Davis of all charges on June 4, 1972. The acquittal was a major victory for the civil rights movement and for Davis herself.

The Aftermath

After her acquittal, Davis continued to be a prominent civil rights activist. She has written several books and has lectured extensively on issues of race, gender, and class. She is also a professor emerita at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Davis’ acquittal is a reminder of the importance of the civil rights movement in the United States. It is also a reminder of the power of the people to fight for justice.