Front Page Talking Points


Black History Month brings exhibits, concerts, discussions and celebrations


1.gifFind local or regional events tied to Black history. What looks interesting?

2.gifLook for an everyday example of resistance, this month’s theme.

3.gifShare a quote from or about a notable Black figure, present or past.

Schools, theaters, libraries, broadcasters, museums and civic centers are focusing extra attention on the culture and contributions of African Americans during Black History Month, which just began. This year's theme is Black resistance, which Professor Karsonya Wise Whitehead of Loyola University Maryland describes as "an essential part of who we are and a necessary tool." In an essay posted last week, she adds: "We are the canaries in the minefield who cry out when this nation strays too far from who it is supposed to be for all of us."

In Washington, D.C., the Library of Congress has a new display exploring how African Americans have resisted historical and ongoing oppression. Also in the capital, the National Museum of African American History and Culture is hosting events, programs and tours. "By resisting, African Americans continue to mobilize resources and shape social movements to create a space for Black Americans to thrive," it says in a statement. At the White House, a presidential proclamation last week said: "We celebrate the legacy of Black Americans, whose power to lead, to overcome and to expand the meaning and practice of American democracy has helped our nation become a more fair and just society." Around the country, groups host workshops, lectures, film screenings, performances and other events aimed at bringing people together while reinforcing pride, respect and knowledge.

The annual observance began as Negro History Week, promoted by historian Carter G. Woodson in 1926 to coincide with the February birth dates of President Abraham Lincoln, signer of the Emancipation Proclamation, and anti-slavery crusader Frederick Douglass. Fifty years later, President Gerald Ford extended the week into a monthlong observation "to honor the too-often-neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history." In a Feb. 1 social media post last week, former President Barack Obama said: "Black History Month shouldn’t be treated as though it is somehow separate from our collective American history -- or boiled down to a compilation of greatest hits. This month should be more than just a commemoration of particular events. It's about the shared experience of all Black Americans . . . whose lives have shaped, challenged, and ultimately strengthened America. It's about taking an unvarnished look at the past so we can create a better future."

President Biden says: "Black Americans' struggles . . . have reformed our democracy far beyond its founding." – Black History Month proclamation last week

Author says: "Black history is too often articulated only from the perspective of what was done to us and rarely displayed as what we were capable of overcoming." – Adam B. Coleman, writer "Black Victim to Black Victor" (2021 book)

Educator says: "It was not until I got to college that I began to see African American history for what it truly is. It is not a series of heroics or forgotten contributions. It is a different telling of the American story altogether." – Esau McCaulley, assistant professor at Wheaton College in Illinois

Front Page Talking Points is written by Alan Stamm for, Copyright 2024

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Common Core State Standard
SL.CCS.1/2/3/4 Grades 6-12: An essay of a current news event is provided for discussion to encourage participation, but also inspire the use of evidence to support logical claims using the main ideas of the article. Students must analyze background information provided about a current event within the news, draw out the main ideas and key details, and review different opinions on the issue. Then, students should present their own claims using facts and analysis for support.