Posts tagged with "black history month"

2024 Prince George’s County Spelling Bee


The 2024 Prince George’s County Spelling Bee is presented by The Washington Informer. Watch the top spellers in the county compete for a chance to participate in the Scripps National Spelling Bee!

National Spelling Bee

The Scripps National Spelling Bee is an annual spelling bee held in the United States. It is open to students in grades 1-8 who have won their local and regional spelling bees.

The bee is held in Washington, D.C., and the winner receives a trophy, a cash prize, and a trip to New York City.


The National Spelling Bee was first held in 1925. It was created by Frank Neuhauser, a journalist for the Louisville Courier-Journal. Neuhauser was inspired to create the bee after he saw a spelling bee at a local school.

The bee was originally called the National Spelling Contest. It was renamed the National Spelling Bee in 1941.


The National Spelling Bee is a single-elimination tournament. The competition begins with a preliminary round, in which the spellers are given a list of words to spell. The spellers who spell all of the words correctly advance to the next round.

The final round of the bee is held on stage at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland. The spellers are given a list of words to spell, and they are eliminated one by one until only one speller remains.


The winner of the National Spelling Bee receives the Scripps Cup, a trophy that is named after the Scripps family, which has sponsored the bee since 1925. The winner also receives a cash prize of $50,000 and a trip to New York City.

Some of the most famous winners of the National Spelling Bee include:

  • Frank Neuhauser (1925)
  • Jacques Bailly (1980)
  • Rebecca Sealfon (1997)
  • Nupur Lala (2015)
  • Zaila Avant-garde (2021)


The National Spelling Bee has had a significant impact on American culture. The bee has helped to promote literacy and spelling in the United States. It has also helped to create a sense of community among spellers and their families.

Harvard’s Black Scholars on The State of Black America

Editor’s Note: article by Harvard Magazine.

Harvard African American scholars take stock of a difficult moment.

by Lydialyle Gibson

During  A searching discussion Thursday evening at the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) on the “State of Black America,” historian Khalil Gibran Muhammad opened with a trenchant warning: “We are facing uncharted waters.”

Surveying the rise of Trumpism and the past several years of proliferating book bans, rollbacks of voting rights, attacks on diversity, and laws curtailing our prohibiting the teaching of black history, he added, “It looks like we have the underpinnings of textbook fascism—not make-believe, not excessive rhetoric. If these things were happening in other countries, particularly in liberal democracies, or let alone in the Global South, the U.S. State Department would be issuing warnings about the status of those societies.”

Muhammad, the Ford Foundation professor of history, race, and public policy, was joined on stage by three HKS colleagues, including co-panelists Cornell Brooks, the Hauser professor of the practice of nonprofit organizations and professor of the practice of public leadership and social justice; and Sandra Susan Smith, the Guggenheim professor of criminal justice. The evening was moderated by Setti Warren, director of the Institute of Politics and adjunct lecturer in public policy.

The event came a little more than two months after U.S. Representative Virginia Foxx (R, North Carolina) targeted Muhammad and one of his courses by name on the House floor. During the now-infamous Congressional hearing into campus antisemitism where lawmakers interrogated former President Claudine Gay and two other college presidents, Foxx decried Muhammad’s class, “Race and Racism in the Making of the United States as a Global Power,” as a “prime example” of the “race-based ideology” that made Harvard “ground zero for antisemitism.”

Muhammad’s course, required for first-year MPP students, explores how race and racism have influenced American public policy and contributed to the nation’s rise to global dominance. Last fall, 207 students were enrolled. On Thursday evening, Muhammad sought to put Foxx’s accusation in the broader context of recent and longstanding political attacks on education, and he argued that those attacks endanger American democracy. “These people have no idea what happens in [my] class,” he said. “Zero evidence. So, I find it incredibly important for you, the audience and the listeners, to take seriously what that means, to take seriously that we have political leaders in this country who can pick out of thin air classes being taught anywhere in this country and accuse the people who teach those classes of being responsible for antisemitism.” The goal, he added, is to silence voters, activists, and educators. “Self-censorship and fear are the oxygen that allow this illiberal movement to win,” he said.

Muhammad also had criticism for Harvard. In response to an audience question from a College student about feeling uneasy as a black person on campus in the current political climate, Muhammad said he felt uneasy too: “I’m still waiting on this University to say something about protecting its faculty against such attacks,” like the one he experienced, which he described as “unwarranted, unjustified, and a flat-out lie.” He also called on Harvard’s leadership to “dispel the myths” articulated by conservative activists and politicians who accuse the University’s diversity, equity, and inclusion policies of generating antisemitism. “Faculty can’t be their full selves for students if they themselves feel unsupported or unprotected,” Muhammad said.

In a statement about Muhammad’s course, emailed to Harvard Magazine by the University’s Office of Public Affairs and Communications, HKS Dean Douglas Elmendorf said: “Requiring this course for Master in Public Policy students at the Kennedy School recognizes the important role that race has played in public policy over time. This course makes a vital contribution to the learning of our students who will become policymakers and public leaders.”

THE REST OF the evening’s discussion was by turns sorrowful, frustrated, and defiant. Warren noted the long history of African American leadership in the pro-democracy movements to expand rights in the United States and wondered about its meaning in the context of the current moment. In response to a question comparing today’s political anger and polarization to the backlash against Reconstruction in the 1870s, Brooks offered the metaphor of the canary in the coal mine. “When we talk about the state of black America,” he said, “we’re really talking about the state of America, and the state of this democracy. Which is to say, when black people’s lives are in peril, when black people’s access to the ballot box is in peril, so is the country’s.” The same laws that make it harder for black people to vote also make it harder for other groups of citizens: young people, the disabled, the elderly. He continued, “And we see in our democracy all the time, over and over again, that the harms perpetuated against black people are not just illustrative—they are predictive.”

Smith spoke of the difficulty of achieving, and sustaining, concrete gains for racial equality amid the reflexive undertow of American culture. Too often, she said, activists try to effect change with ambitious policies, but “fail to grapple with the cultures that lie underneath.” Americans’ short-sightedness—and short memories when it comes to racism—also make it hard, she said, to give policy reforms the longevity they need to work. “When you’re trying to achieve racial equity, you have to take into consideration a history of race and racism. But we live in a culture of denial. How do you achieve equity, if you’re denying the fact of or erasing a history of poor treatment, and you’re not addressing it?”

At one point, Warren broached the idea that racial progress has been overstated, given the dramatic setbacks in recent years. Smith agreed, arguing that mass incarceration skewed people’s perceptions by removing a huge fraction of the African American population from view. Incarcerated people aren’t counted in statistics on employment, wages, graduation rates, and other categories of societal engagement. As a result, she said, “[W]e like to lift up how much progress we have made…but much of it has been a mirage, because we have essentially warehoused a significant percentage of people on the low end.” Smith and Muhammad both pointed to racial gaps that have persisted, and in some cases widened, during the decades since the civil rights movement: black women die in childbirth at higher rates than prevailed 20 years ago—and at more than double the rate for white women; black Americans’ homeownership rate is 30 percentage points lower than whites’—three percentage points worse than in 1960.

Asked about the “bright spots” they see, Smith pointed to examples of “communities of color taking control of their situation and creating solutions for themselves”: black women opening birthing centers to give each other better maternal care; community bail funds to get people out of jail; court watchers who monitor legal proceedings. Brooks pointed to a 60 percent drop in incarceration rates among juveniles (though racial disparities remain): “What we failed to do with respect to adults”—2 million of whom are behind bars—“we have managed to do in many places for young people.” He also noted the pushback among activists and grassroots organizers against voter suppression. “I think that speaks to our ability to be optimistic,” he said. “It’s not the inevitability of this democracy writ large. We’re confident in ourselves and our ability to affect change, which I think is absolutely necessary to a school that calls itself a school of public policy and leadership. We’ve got to be hopeful with respect to ourselves.”

From left: Setti Warren, Cornell Brooks, Sandra Susan Smith, Khalil Gibran Muhammad | SCREENSHOT BY HARVARD MAGAZINE

The Lynching of Frazier Baker

Frazier Baker, the first African American to be elected as U.S. postmaster for Lake City, South Carolina, was a prominent figure in the Civil Rights Movement. He was born in 1908 in Lake City and attended segregated schools. After graduating from high school, he worked as a farmer and a teacher.

In 1946, Baker was elected as the president of the Lake City branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He also served as the president of the South Carolina NAACP from 1951 to 1955.

During the Civil Rights Movement, Baker was a leading figure in the fight for voting rights for African Americans. He was arrested several times for his activism, but he never gave up.

In 1966, Baker was elected as the U.S. postmaster for Lake City. He was the first African American to hold this position. Baker served as postmaster until his retirement in 1972.

Baker was a dedicated civil rights activist and a respected community leader. And although he left a lasting legacy of fighting for justice and equality in America, he was dealt the cruelty of racism and hate by a white mob.

On February 22, 1898, a white mob lynched Dr. Frazier Baker along with his infant daughter, Julia. The mob also injured Baker’s wife, Lavinia, and two of their remaining children. Lavinia and the five surviving children managed to flee.

Read a detailed report on Frazier Baker by Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), HERE.

Historians Years-Long Campaign Wins Landmark Status for Historic Black NYC School That Survived Anti-Black Riots

Building in NYC’s Chelsea neighborhood is part of seeming flood of U.S. sites newly recognized for ties to Black history

A dormant 176-year-old building in downtown Manhattan played a role in New York’s little-known Draft Riots, which prompted Irish immigrants — angered over being drafted into the Civil War — to take their frustration out on Black people. The Irishmen gathered at the doors of Colored School No. 4, then a refuge for Black children who were taught by educators with ties to abolitionist, suffragist, religious and cultural movements.

Pulitzer winner E.R. Shipp wrote for NABJ Black News & Views about historian Erik K. Washington and his quest to win landmark status for the school. Read  Shipp’s full report HERE


DeWitt, NY First Black Town Councilor Introduces Resolution to Recognize Black History Month

DEWITT, N.Y. — Bishop Dr. H. Bernard Alex, the Town of DeWitt’s first black town councilor, is continuing to bring firsts to his community.

In a town board meeting on Monday, Feb. 12, Alex introduced a resolution for the town to recognize February as Black History Month. Alex says it is a step in recognizing the contributions African Americans have made in the town and the whole country.

“It is important because I am here, because of all of those forgotten, all of those invisible, men and women who sacrificed and gave up so much.”

Black History in CNY: Two business owners are using fashion, to spread a deeper message

Alex was elected to the board in the November 2023 Election. Before that, he helped serve on the DeWitt Police Commission for several years. Alex hopes his role in the community can inspire others.

“I sincerely hope that others will say, ‘If he can, so can I,’ and that they will get involved in local politics, the greatest service you can give is serving the people closest to you,” said Alex.

Bishop Alex is a senior pastor and teacher at Victory Temple Fellowship Church, “A Missionary Baptist Church” in Syracuse.

“We have been positioned in a very wonderful time in history that we can expand our reach and make a difference in the life and lives of those in DeWitt and hoping for those to come.”


BHM: Robert Rice Sr. Preserved Black History in Dayton for Future Generations


By Greg Lynch


Robert Rice was a Dayton school teacher for more than 40 years and was considered an expert on Black history in the area.

A cousin of famed poet Paul Laurence Dunbar, Rice traced his family lineage to a woman bought out of slavery by the Steele family, whose name was on the former Steele High School, in 1839. His father, Lucius Rice, was the city’s second Black police officer. His mother, Dora Rice, was the city’s first female Black police force member.

Rice’s grandfather, Richard Burton, was a Civil War veteran who escaped slavery to join the Union Army in Tennessee before coming to Dayton and opening up the city’s first Black laundry.

After graduating from Stivers High School, Rice attended Fisk and Wilberforce universities.

He returned to Dayton in 1936 and became a teacher at Dunbar High School, the only school that allowed for Black teachers at the time. He stayed there for 35 years.

In 1973, the city asked Black teachers to volunteer for reassignment in order to break down segregated teaching staffs. Rice volunteered and went to Meadowdale. A year later he retired from the Dayton school system and began teaching at Chaminade Julienne “to keep busy.”

Rice spent a lifetime collecting written and oral Black history from the area. A 1974 Dayton Daily News article called Rice a “talking history book.”

Over the years, Rice was interviewed and wrote columns for the Dayton Daily News many times. Here are some of the facts and stories he shared with us.

First Black residents arrive in Dayton

According to Rice, the first Black residents came to Dayton between 1796 and 1798, a year or two after white settlers arrived.

Several thousand people are believed to have made their way into Ohio as squatters prior to the official settlement of the region in the 1790s and there were Black residents — probably escaped slaves — among them.

The name of the very first Black resident is lost to history, but he is described as a servant of the family of Daniel Cooper, proprietor of the town.

In 1803, Cooper brought a second Black person, a girl who worked as a servant, to a farm south of the town. Shortly after arriving, she gave birth to the first Black child here and named him Harry Cooper, taking her employer’s family name.

The earliest Black settlement was downtown and on the East Side, in an area called Seely’s Ditch.

When the village officially became a city in 1841, there were about 400 Black residents out of a total population of 5,000.

Paul Laurence Dunbar

Rice liked to set the record straight on Black history in the city. One common error he cited was the belief that famed poet Paul Laurence Dunbar went to Steele High School. He graduated from Central High School in 1891. Steele High School didn’t open until 1894. When Central closed, all of the records were transferred to Steele, and that is how the error occurred, he explained.

Rice said that “when Paul Laurence Dunbar finished high school he couldn’t get a decent job so he became an elevator operator in the Callahan Building, which later became the Gem City building, making $4 a week.”

Black ‘firsts’ in Dayton

Rice uncovered many milestones through the years.

One of the first marriages of Black people was that of Joe Wheeler and Catherine Sills. They made their home on McLain Street As of 1976, one of their descendants still lived in Dayton.

The town’s first Black church, Wayman African Methodist Episcopal, began meeting in a log cabin on the corner of McLain and Potomac Streets in East Dayton. The congregation later moved to Eaker Street and later to Fifth and Bank Streets in West Dayton. Finally, in the 1920s, they moved to Westwood.

Dayton’s first Black-owned bank, Unity State Bank, opened in 1970.

The city’s first Black doctor had the last name of Burns. His office was located on 5th and Perry Streets, and he was the man that told Paul Laurence Dunbar that he had tuberculosis.

The first Black druggist in the city was LeRoy Cox. The drugstore he owned opened sometime during 1911 or 1912. It was located on Fifth and Charter streets. The drugstore had just opened for business when the Great Flood of 1913 ravaged the region. Cox went to work at the post office carrying mail until 1919, when he reopened for business.

Theaters and restaurants

Up until the early 1920s, Black residents could attend any theater or restaurant in Dayton.

Segregation of public facilities started when the Keith Theatre opened its new building at Fourth and Ludlow streets in 1923, and Black residents were barred from almost all downtown theaters, restaurants and other places. Three restaurants, at Union Station, the bus station and Mose Moore’s on Sixth Street were the only ones still open to Black residents.

Theater segregation remained until 1941, when a group of Black businessmen and clergy fought for an end to the policy. In 1951, similar pressure was applied the the restaurant industry, ending segregation there as well.

In 1926, Black businessmen Carl Anderson and Augustus Giles built the Classic Theater at 817 W. Third St. The Classic Theater opened the next year, in 1927. Rice said silent movies were the first productions at the theater. Entertainers such as Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Count Bassie, Billy Eckstine and the Mills Brothers performed there.

The Palace Theater on the corner of Fifth and Williams streets was founded in 1929 by Dr. Lloyd Cox (who was Black) and Valentine Winters. In 1933, the theater was converted to a nightclub.


The first Black person elected to office in the Dayton area was Frederick Bowers, a Jefferson Twp. real estate broker who was elected to the Ohio House of Representatives as a Republican in 1949 and again in 1951.

David Albritton, a former Golden Gloves boxer and Olympic athlete, won election to the Ohio House from the same district a short time later. C.J. McLin Jr. was elected to the state legislature in 1967 and served until 1988.

Important homes and places

At 205 Dunbar Ave., the first Black-owned taxicab company, West Side Taxi Co., was started by Jack Spicer.

The Mallory Building, at the corner of Fifth Street and Horace Avenue, was once the home of Robert Mallory, a captain in the Army during World War I. The Queen Anne-style home was built by Black contractors.

A home at 59 Horace Ave. was owned by Mose Moore, who was once the wealthiest Black person in Dayton before the turn of the century. Moore owned a combined restaurant, pool room, hotel and barbershop in downtown Dayton. He died in 1927.

A home on Shannon Street is where Hallie Q. Brown once lived. In the early 1900s, Brown founded the first school for Black adults in Dayton. She later was a professor at Wilberforce University. She died in 1930.


Overcoming White Americans Massive Resistance to Desegregation and Civil Rights

The physical and emotional abuse many Black families suffered in pursuit of an education and civil rights in America was a traumatizing and arduous journey. Most of the stories have never been told. Some of the victims were as young as 6-years-old Ruby Bridges and 11-year-old Donna Jean Barksdale, who sat alone on her first day of school in Hoxie, Arkansas. Barksdale was one of 21 children to integrate the school in 1955.

School Integration in America
School integration in America refers to the process of desegregating schools and creating racially mixed learning environments. The fight for school integration was a key part of the broader civil rights movement in the United States, and it has had a profound impact on American society.

History of School Integration

  • Pre-1954: Prior to the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling in 1954, schools in the United States were largely segregated by race. This segregation was often enforced by law, and it created a system of education that was unequal and unjust.
  • Brown v. Board of Education: The Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling in 1954 declared that racial segregation of public schools was unconstitutional. This ruling was a major victory for the civil rights movement, and it paved the way for the integration of schools across the country.
  • Challenges to Integration: Despite the Brown v. Board of Education ruling, the process of school integration was not easy. Many white communities resisted integration, and there were numerous instances of violence and intimidation directed at black students and families.
  • Progress of Integration: Over time, however, school integration has made significant progress. Today, most schools in the United States are integrated, and the vast majority of students attend schools that are racially diverse.

Impact of School Integration
School integration has had a positive impact on American society in a number of ways:

  • Improved educational outcomes: Studies have shown that students who attend integrated schools are more likely to achieve academic success. They are also more likely to develop positive attitudes towards people of other races.
  • Reduced prejudice: Integrated schools help to reduce prejudice and promote understanding between different racial groups. Students who attend integrated schools are more likely to have friends of other races, and they are less likely to hold negative stereotypes about other groups.
  • Increased social mobility: Integrated schools help to increase social mobility by providing all students with access to the same educational opportunities. This can help to break down the cycle of poverty and create a more just and equitable society.

School integration is a key part of the American civil rights movement, and it has had a profound impact on American society. Integrated schools help to improve educational outcomes, reduce prejudice, and increase social mobility. They are essential to creating a more just and equitable society for all.

School Integration in Arkansas
School integration in Arkansas has been a complex and challenging process that began in the late 1950s and is still ongoing today. The process began with the Little Rock Nine crisis in 1957, when a group of nine African American students were forcibly integrated into the all-white Central High School in Little Rock. This event sparked a national controversy and led to the deployment of federal troops to protect the students. In the years since the Little Rock Nine crisis, Arkansas has made significant progress in integrating its schools. However, the state still faces challenges, such as poverty, segregation, and a lack of resources.

Key Events in School Integration in Arkansas

  • 1957: The Little Rock Nine crisis
  • 1968: The passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1968
  • 1972: The desegregation of the University of Arkansas
  • 1982: The passage of the Arkansas School Integration Act

Challenges to School Integration in Arkansas

  • Poverty: Arkansas is one of the poorest states in the United States, and this poverty has a significant impact on its schools. Poor students are more likely to attend underfunded schools with fewer resources.
  • Segregation: Despite the progress that has been made, segregation still exists in Arkansas schools. This is due to a variety of factors, including housing patterns, school zoning, and the lack of resources.
  • Lack of resources: Arkansas schools are chronically underfunded, and this lack of resources has a negative impact on all students, regardless of their race or ethnicity.

School integration in Arkansas has been a long and difficult process, but the state has made significant progress in the last 60 years. However, there are still challenges to be faced, such as poverty, segregation, and a lack of resources. By working together, Arkansans can ensure that all students have access to a quality education.

School Integration in Mississippi
The history of school integration in Mississippi is a complex and challenging one. In the early 1950s, Mississippi was one of the most segregated states in the United States. Public schools were segregated by race, and there were no black students enrolled in any white schools.

In 1954, the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that racial segregation of public schools was unconstitutional. The decision was a major victory for the civil rights movement, and it led to the gradual desegregation of schools across the country. However, Mississippi resisted school desegregation for many years. In 1962, James Meredith became the first black student to enroll at the University of Mississippi. His admission was met with violent protests by white segregationists, and federal troops had to be sent in to protect him.

Despite the resistance, school integration in Mississippi continued to move forward. By 1970, more than half of black students in Mississippi were enrolled in integrated schools. However, segregation continued to exist in many areas of the state, and it was not until the 1990s that Mississippi finally achieved full school integration. The process of school integration in Mississippi was a long and difficult one, but it was ultimately a success. Today, the state has a diverse and integrated system of public schools, and students of all races and ethnicities have the opportunity to learn and grow together.

Impact of school integration in Florida:
School integration in Florida has had a significant impact on the state’s education system. It has led to increased educational opportunities for black students, improved academic outcomes, and reduced racial isolation. However, school integration has also been controversial, and there are still some challenges to overcome.

Current challenges to school integration in Florida:

  • Resegregation: Some Florida school districts have become more segregated in recent years, as white students have moved to private schools or to other districts.
  • Lack of diversity: Many Florida schools still lack diversity, and black students are more likely to attend schools with predominantly black student populations.
  • Achievement gap: Black students in Florida continue to lag behind white students in academic achievement.

Despite these challenges and by continuing to work to desegregate schools and ensure equal educational opportunities for all students, Florida can create a more just and equitable society.

Read more about segregation in America by eji HERE.

Saluting Dangerfield Newby, The Real Django Unchained

As part of the theme and commemoration of Black History Month, it is only fitting to highlight the power of love and family depicted in the film Django Unchained. Albeit a tragic love story, Dangerfield and Harriet Newby exemplify the true meaning of love and courage.

Editor’s Note: This account of Dangerfield Newby, the real Django, comes from African Archives. Please follow and support their historical storytelling of American history and culture.

Dangerfield Newby is the actual man on which the movie Django Unchained is loosely based. He was a member of the John Brown raiders. He joined the gang to save his wife, Harriet and children from slavery. —Dangerfield Newby (1815 – October 17, 1859) was the oldest of John Brown’s raiders, one of five black raiders, and the first of his men to die at Harpers Ferry, Virginia.

Born into slavery in Fauquier County, Virginia, Newby married a woman also enslaved. Newby’s father was Henry Newby, a landowner in Fauquier County. His mother was Elsey Newby, who was a slave, owned not by Henry, but by a neighbor, John Fox. Elsey and Henry lived together for many years and had several children, although interracial marriage was illegal in Virginia. Dangerfield was their first child. Dangerfield Newby, his mother and his siblings were later freed by his father when he moved them across the Ohio River into Bridgeport, Ohio.

John Fox, who died in 1859, apparently did not attempt to retrieve Elsey, Dangerfield, or any of his siblings. Dangerfield’s wife and their seven children remained in bondage. A letter found on his body revealed some of his motivation for joining John Brown and the raid on Harpers Ferry. Dangerfield Newby’s wife, Harriet Newby, was the slave of Jesse Jennings, of Arlington or Warrenton, Virginia. Newby had been unable to purchase the freedom of his wife and seven children. Their master raised the price after Newby had saved the $1,500 that had previously been agreed on. Because all of Newby’s other efforts had failed he hoped to free them by force.

Harriet’s poignant letters, found on his body, proved instrumental in advancing the abolitionist cause. Newby was six foot two. On October 17, 1859, the citizens of Harpers Ferry set to put down the raid. Harpers Ferry manufactured guns but the citizens had little ammunition, so during the assault on the raiders they fired anything they could fit into a gun barrel. One man was shooting six inch spikes from his rifle, one of which struck Newby in the throat, killing him instantly.

After the raid, the people of Harpers Ferry took his body, stabbed it repeatedly, and amputated his limbs. His body was left in an alley to be eaten by hogs. In 1899 the remains of Newby-plus remains of nine other raiders-were reburied in a common grave near the body of John Brown in North Elba, New York. Dangerfield Newby’s wife, Harriet and her children were sold to a Louisiana slave owner after the raid.

Additional information and an official biography, by Virginia Changemakers also states that Dangerfield Newby (ca. 1820-1859) was born in Culpeper County, the oldest child of Henry Newby, a white man, and Elsey Newby, an enslaved black woman. In 1858, Henry Newby sold his land in Culpeper and moved with his family to Bridgeport, Ohio, thereby freeing his wife and their children.

Honoring Black History Month Using Art as a Platform for Social Justice

African Americans and the Arts is this year’s theme in commemoration of Black History Month. 

The National Museum of African American History & Culture (NMAAHC) is marking the occasion with a host of events throughout February. BHM events are organized around five weekly focus areas that celebrate the Black people who have used art as their platform for social justice.

Black History Month, celebrated annually in February in the United States and in both February and March in Canada, stands as a testament to the remarkable achievements and enduring contributions of African Americans to the fabric of global history and culture. Far beyond a mere commemoration, this month-long observance serves as a vital platform for education, understanding, and collective growth.

A Time for Reflection and Celebration

Black History Month provides a crucial opportunity to reflect on the pivotal role that African Americans have played in shaping the very foundation of our nations. It invites us to delve into the rich tapestry of their experiences, struggles, and triumphs, paying homage to the countless individuals who have left an indelible mark on society.

Simultaneously, this month is a joyous celebration of the vibrant culture and heritage of African Americans. Through music, art, literature, and culinary traditions, we come together to appreciate the beauty and diversity that emanates from this remarkable community.

Fostering Education and Understanding

One of the paramount values of Black History Month lies in its potential as an educational platform. It offers an invaluable chance to rectify the omissions and distortions that have plagued the teaching of history for far too long. By shedding light on the contributions and perspectives of African Americans, we strive to cultivate a more complete and accurate understanding of our collective past.

Furthermore, Black History Month provides an avenue to promote tolerance and foster a greater sense of empathy among people of all backgrounds. By engaging in open dialogue, sharing stories, and acknowledging the shared humanity that binds us all, we work towards dismantling the barriers of prejudice, racism and discrimination.

Strengthening Community and Pride

For the African American community, Black History Month serves as a beacon of unity and a source of immense pride. It is a time to come together, celebrate shared heritage, and draw strength from the indomitable spirit of resilience that has defined the African American experience and shaped American culture. 

By honoring the sacrifices and successes of their ancestors, African Americans find inspiration to continue the fight for justice, equality, and a more inclusive society. Black History Month empowers them to embrace their unique identity, cultivate a sense of self-worth, and envision a brighter future for generations to come.

Creating a More Just and Inclusive Society

Ultimately, Black History Month transcends its historical significance to become a catalyst for social change. It compels us to confront the lingering vestiges of racism and inequality that continue to plague our societies. By acknowledging the past and celebrating the present, we lay the groundwork for a more just and inclusive future.

Through education, empathy, and collective action, Black History Month empowers us to challenge discriminatory practices, dismantle systemic barriers, and work towards creating a society where all individuals are treated with dignity, respect, and equality.

The value and importance of Black History Month extend far beyond the confines of a single month. It is a time for learning, reflection, celebration, and action. By embracing its significance, we honor the legacy of African Americans and pave the way for a more united, equitable, and harmonious nation and world.

Radcliffe Bailey, Sculpture Artist

Vandals Strike Iconic Jackie Robinson Statue Ahead of Black History Month

A prized Jackie Robinson statue was stolen from a public park in Kansas by thieves who sawed off the bronze sculpture, leaving behind the iconic baseball player’s feet.

The brazen theft slammed by officials as “horrendous” and “disgusting” took place just one week before the start of Black History Month. “More than frustrated, I am angry to see that this has happened,” said Wichita City Council member Brandon Johnson. “This was disgusting. This should never happen.”

According to news reports the thieves struck sometime during the night at the League 42 baseball fields in McAdams Park, which is also home to the Jackie Robinson Pavilion. Surveillance footage shows at least two people topple the hefty statue and load it into a silver pick-up truck. City officials theorize the criminals are planning on selling the beloved statue as scrap metal. The sculpture cost the city upwards of $100,000 to install in 2021.

“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives,” Jackie Robinson

“It has a huge impact in regards to the history of our community, the history of baseball, what Jackie Robinson really means and this step is actually the opposite of everything that Jackie Robinson stood for. So it’s just appalling to me,” said Troy Houtman, the Director of Parks and Recreation.

According to Houtman, the park has been dealing with a string of vandalism in recent months, and officials are offering the opportunity to return the iconic statue “no questions asked.” “We move on and repair this statue. Hopefully, they’re wise enough to do that and bring the statue back so we can make the repair. If not, I think we’ll find some other actions might occur,” said Houtman. The Wichita Metro Crime Commission offered a reward of up to $2,500 for tips leading to arrests and another $5,000 for tips that lead to the statue’s recovery.


  • Charred remnants of the stolen Jackie Robinson bronze statue were found Tuesday inside a trash can at a Kansas park, officials said. Pieces of the statue were dumped in the garbage and lit on fire at Garvey Park in Wichita, a police spokesperson said during a press conference streamed by KWCH.