February is African American History Month, and you’ll find various venues publicizing events in conjunction to it. Harper has had several, including a screening of Meeting David Wilson and a discussion with the director (David Wilson) at the beginning of the month.
African Americans have been an integral part of this country since its beginnings. While some may view African American History Month as a way to honor and acknowledge the contributions that African Americans have made, others may question whether having African American History Month is necessary to begin with. After all, shouldn’t African Americans be celebrated every month? Why only in February? If you’re interested in this discussion, there’s an article in Black Voices (“Black History Month Still Relevant — for Now”) and a forum where people can share their thoughts: http://blogs.blackvoices.com/2010/01/27/black-history-month-still-relevant-for-now/.
History books often begin the history of Africans in America with the arrival of twenty African indentured servants to the English colony of Jamestown, Virginia. However, the history goes much earlier than that. In 1492, Pedro Alonso Nino– a black navigator– traveled with Columbus in his quest to discover the “New World” (which we know was already discovered by the Native Americans thousands of years before). And from 1527-1539, Estevanico– a Muslim slave from Northern Africa– explored much of the southwest. Scholars of African American history may have to dig deep because African Americans were often excluded from literate activity and the written historical record. That’s why the achievements of those like Phillis Wheatly, a slave who published Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral in 1773 (in England), or Frederick Douglass, who published his autobiography Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave in 1845, and many others, are so remarkable.
The library has a display case that features photographs, books, and accomplishments of various African Americans throughout this country’s history. If you have a moment, come and take a look. This country wouldn’t be the same without the struggles, sacrifices, and successes of African Americans. Indeed, the history of the U.S. is the history of African Americans.