Porterville College Celebrates Black History Month Kern Community College District

Social Justice Campaign
Knowing the Past Opens the Door to the Future

Black History

In schools and classrooms, Black History Month is an excellent time to explore the Black experience—including the history and culture of African-American people, the injustice faced by them and how that injustice has been and continues to be confronted and overcome. As with other similarly themed months, it is important not to isolate black history and culture into one month during the year. Black history is American history and should be integrated into the curriculum throughout the school year.

By reflecting on the stories and events that shaped black history, we celebrate and honor the accomplishments of African-American people as a reminder of the words of historian Carter G. Woodson who created Black History Week in 1926:

“Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.”

Origins of Black History Month

In 1926, Carter G. Woodson pioneered the celebration of "Black History Week", designated for the second week in February, to coincide with marking the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. It began as a way of remembering important people and events in the history of the African ancestry. It is celebrated in February in the United States and Canada, while in Ireland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom it is observed in October.

Carter G. Woodson, known as the Father of Black History, set for himself the goal of providing a scientific and historical account of people of African ancestry. Born to former slaves, he educated himself as a youth and went on to earn a PhD.

Black History is a time when African-Americans can take the time out and see what the people before them fought for. Black History is a time of rejoicing, celebrating and thanking those African-Americans for giving us hope or a life lesson that could be used.

President Gerald R. Ford

The celebration was expanded to a month in 1976. President Gerald R. Ford urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” That year, fifty years after the first celebration, the association held the first African American History Month.

Did you know? The NAACP was founded on February 12, 1909, the centennial anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln.

Knowing the Past Opens the Door to the Future. The Continuing Importance of Black History Month.

Please take some time to learn more about these important people and events.

Who Was Harriet Tubman?

Born into slavery in Maryland, Harriet Tubman escaped to freedom in the North in 1849 to become the most famous "conductor" on the Underground Railroad. Tubman risked her life to lead hundreds of family members and other slaves from the plantation system to freedom on this elaborate secret network of safe houses. A leading abolitionist before the American Civil War, Tubman also helped the Union Army during the war, working as a spy among other roles.

Who Was Frederick Douglass?

Frederick Douglass was an escaped slave who became a prominent activist, author and public speaker. He became a leader in the abolitionist movement, which sought to end the practice of slavery, before and during the Civil War.

An advocate for women’s rights, and specifically the right of women to vote, Douglass’ legacy as an author and leader lives on. His work served as an inspiration to the civil rights movement of the 1960s and beyond.

Frederick Douglass was born into slavery in Maryland in the 1800s, and went on to become the first African-American citizen to hold a high position within the U.S. Government. When Douglass was sold, the wife of his owner taught Douglass the alphabet, despite the ban on teaching slaves to read and write. Douglass’s ability to read refined his political views and human rights ideology, and gave him the motivation to do something about it.

What was the Niagara Movement?

Everett Collection

In 1905, a group of prominent Black intellectuals led by W.E.B. Du Bois met in Erie, Ontario, near Niagara Falls, to form an organization calling for civil and political rights for African Americans. With its comparatively aggressive approach to combating racial discrimination and segregation, the Niagara Movement served as a forerunner to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the civil rights movement.

At their initial meeting, the founding members of the Niagara Movement adopted a constitution and by-laws and drafted a “Declaration of Principles” that dedicated the group to fighting for political and social equality for African Americans. “We refuse to allow the impression to remain that the Negro-American assents to inferiority, is submissive under oppression and apologetic before insults,” the declaration read in part. “Persistent manly agitation is the way to liberty, and toward this goal the Niagara Movement has started and asks the cooperation of all men of all races.”

Additional links of important events and people in shaping Black History

Below is a chronological list of a few of the events that shaped black history and some information about the brave men and women who led the way for later generations.

African Indentured Servants Brought to Jamestown, VA, 1619

In 1619 slave traders forced Africans to get on a slave ship, the White Lion, and took them to Virginia. The approximately 20 Africans on that ship, originally from the present-day Angola, had been seized by the British crew from a Portuguese slave ship, the "São João Bautista"

Maryland Passes First Law Banning Interracial Marriage, 1664

On September 20 1664, Maryland passed the first anti-amalgamation law. This was intended to prevent English women from marrying African men. Interracial marriage was a fairly common practice during the colonial era among white indentured servants and black slaves-as well as in more aristocratic circles.

Boston Massacre, March 5, 1770

On the evening of March 5, 1770, British troops fired into a crowd of angry American colonists in Boston who had taunted and violently harassed them. Five colonists were killed. The event, which became known as the Boston Massacre, helped fuel the outrage against British rule—and spurred on the American Revolution.

Among those killed by the British, the first victim was a middle-aged sailor and rope-maker of mixed African American and American Indian descent named Crispus Attucks, accounts suggest. Attucks has been celebrated not just as one of the first martyrs in what became the fight for American independence, but also as a symbol of African Americans’ struggle for freedom and equality.

The Stono Rebellion, 1739

The Stono Rebellion (sometimes called Cato's Conspiracy or Cato's Rebellion) was a slave rebellion that began on September 9, 1739, in the colony of South Carolina. It was the largest slave uprising in the British mainland colonies, with 25 colonists and 35 to 50 Africans killed. The uprising was led by native Africans who were likely from the Central African Kingdom of Kongo, as some of the rebels spoke Portuguese.

Thomas Paine Publishes Anti-Slavery Tract, 1775

Thomas Paine (1737-1809) was a British-born journalist and political radical who emigrated to Pennsylvania in 1774. Though best-known for promoting American independence in his 1776 pamphlet Common Sense, Paine was a prolific writer who penned essays on many topics. In a March 1775 edition of the Pennsylvania Journal and Weekly Advertiser, Paine published an essay calling for the abolition of slavery and the resettlement of freed slaves.

His arguments include a barbed comparison with colonial grievances about Britain. On April 14, 1775, a month after his essay was published, and just five days before the Battle of Lexington, Paine and other Philadelphia liberals formed the Society for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage, America’s first abolitionist group.

A passage by Thomas Jefferson condemning the slave trade is removed from the Declaration of Independence due to pressure from the southern colonies.

Report Discrimination and Racism

Porterville College is committed to maintaining an equal learning and working environment for all. If you have experienced or witnessed acts of racism or discrimination, please report it. The below guide will help you find the appropriate office and contact information:

Unlawful Discrimination:

A complaint of alleged unlawful discrimination may be filed within one year of the alleged discrimination. For complaint forms or additional information, contact one of the following:

Additional inquiries pertaining to federal, state, and local equal opportunity laws, and the governing board policies of Porterville College or Kern Community College District (KCCD Board Policy Section 11-D) may be directed to the following office:

Title IX and Sexual Misconduct:

Porterville College is committed to fostering a learning environment that is safe, conducive to academic success and supportive of healthy personal development for all members of the campus community. Everyone at Porterville College shares responsibility for maintaining this environment by following university policies and exemplifying respect for others.

Additional Resources:

The 15th Amendment, ratified on February 3, 1870 declared that the "right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude."

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