Tag Archives: Maya Angelou

Of Black History Month

www.writerssecrets.com Famous People Series for Black History Month

Black History Month which according to Wikipedia started out as

Negro History Week (1926)

The precursor to Black History Month was created in 1926 in the United States, when historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History announced the second week of February to be “Negro History Week.”[1] This week was chosen because it coincided with the birthday of Abraham Lincoln on February 12 and of Frederick Douglass on February 14, both of which dates Black communities had celebrated together since the late 19th century.[1]

From the event’s initial phase, primary emphasis was placed on encouraging the coordinated teaching of the history of American blacks in the nation’s public schools. The first Negro History Week was met with a lukewarm response, gaining the cooperation of the Departments of Education of the states of North Carolina, Delaware, and West Virginia as well as the city school administrations of Baltimore and Washington, D.C..[4] Despite this far from universal acceptance, the event was regarded by Woodson as “one of the most fortunate steps ever taken by the Association,” and plans for a repeat of the event on an annual basis continued apace.[4]

At the time of Negro History Week’s launch, Woodson contended that the teaching of black history was essential to ensure the physical and intellectual survival of the race within broader society:

“If a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated. The American Indian left no continuous record. He did not appreciate the value of tradition; and where is he today? The Hebrew keenly appreciated the value of tradition, as is attested by the Bible itself. In spite of worldwide persecution, therefore, he is a great factor in our civilization.”[5]

By 1929 The Journal of Negro History was able to note that with only two exceptions, officials with the State Departments of Educations of “every state with considerable Negro population” had made the event known to that state’s teachers and distributed official literature associated with the event.”[6] Churches also played a significant role in the distribution of literature in association with Negro History Week during this initial interval, with the mainstream and black press aiding in the publicity effort.[7]

Negro History Week was met with enthusiastic response; it prompted the creation of black history clubs, an increase in interest among teachers, and interest from progressive whites. Negro History Week grew in popularity throughout the following decades, with mayors across the United States endorsing it as a holiday.[1]

Black History Month (1976)

The expansion of Black History Week to Black History Month was first proposed by the leaders of the Black United Students at Kent State University in February 1969. The first celebration of the Black History Month took place at Kent State one year later, in February 1970.[8]

In 1976 as part of the United States Bicentennial, the informal expansion of Negro History Week to Black History Month was officially recognized by the U.S. government. President Gerald Ford spoke in regards to this, urging Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”[9]

United Kingdom (1987)

Black History Month was first celebrated in the United Kingdom in 1987. It was organized through the leadership of Ghanaian analyst Akyaaba Addai-Sebo, who then served as a coordinator of special projects for the Greater London Council (GLC) and created a collaboration to get it underway.[10] It was first celebrated in London and has become a national institution.[3]

Canada (1995)

In 1995, after a motion by politician Jean Augustine, representing the riding of Etobicoke—Lakeshore in Ontario, Canada’s House of Commons officially recognized February as Black History Month and honored Black Canadians. In 2008, Senator Donald Oliver moved to have the Senate officially recognize Black History Month, which was unanimously approved.[2]

See more at the Source of this article: Wikipedia

We will be featuring articles on

Maya Angelou at: http://writerssecrets.com/maya-angelou-lashes-out-on-paraphrase-at-the-new-martin-luther-king-jr-memorial-and-shes-right/

Martin Luther King at: http://writerssecrets.com/americas-newest-national-monument-debuts-dedicated-to-the-reverend-doctor-martin-luther-king-jr-what-we-must-never-forget-about-the-man-and-his-resounding-message/

Nelson Mandela at: http://writerssecrets.com/of-nelson-mandela-an-appreciation/

Plus More.

Join in for the Writers Secrets Session with Dr. Jeffrey Lant as we cover topics like how to write for Black History Month

Get a Year of Writing Tips and Insights

With Dr. Jeffrey Lant  at: http://writerssecrets.com/intro

Feel free to comment on Black History Month below


 

Photo Source: After The Alter Call

 

Maya Angelou lashes out on paraphrase at the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial… and she’s right.

From www.writerssecrets.com Famous People Series

In Celebration of Black History Month

Author’s program note. To understand the point of this article, the point of Maya Angelou’s complaint about paraphrasing the great words of one of history’s most influential speakers on his very monument, you must love both language and precision. And above all you must love the truth.

At age 83, Angelou is an honest woman. She is a truth-telling woman. And is a woman who understands and can wield with effect the right words in the right order. Most people will call her a writer, and a writer she is. But I prefer to call her a poet, for she is that, too.

A poet is a person who strives to deliver maximum impact with minimum words… who labors with the demons of truth, the difficulties of language and who works obsessively (for every poet is obsessive) with delivering just the right meaning… and this is difficult.

To such a person, gifted with the scourge of outrage, the loutish behavior of the officials in charge of the new national memorial to the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. is deeply painful… and thoroughly outrageous. Not least because in true loutish fashion, they did not have a clue that their seemingly innocent action would produce justifiable rage.

But before we dig into that, I want you to hear Maya Angelou, poet, read from her acclaimed works, for few poets have won so much recognition as she… listening to the woman as she reads her words will make it clear why. Go to any search engine. Listen to the cadence, feel the way she caresses the language, loving each word tenderly before she delivers it to an expectant world. She is in love with language and the mighty power of language… and she is at war with the unenlightened who by killing language, obliterate meaning and leave us the poorer.

The background.

On February 4, 1968, Martin Luther King gave a haunting sermon at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church. In it he discussed the eulogy he might and should be given in the event of his death. Death and prophesy were in the air that day; tensions were high on both sides of the Civil Rights question, those who embraced it and its leader and those whose every word bespoke an adamantine opposition. The people, and not just those in the congregation, were unsettled, anxious, and needed the balm of comfort…

… and so the mahatma of the movement, moved to the pulpit none could grace as he, and he spoke, as he always spoke, from a heart, this time burdened with thoughts of eternity and of frail humanity. He wished to admonish, enlighten, and above all prepare them for a reckoning with a destiny he felt was his — and theirs.

This is what he said…

“If you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.”

And the people knew their revered leader was talking about his legacy and about what they must do to ensure his right and proper recognition and that his message of justice and of peace endure when he was not present.

Two months later, this prophet of equality and righteousness, was gunned down … and so entered History.

His words and his monument.

In due course the nation chose to honor the man and, above all else, to honor his message, in a great civic temple in the nation’s capital. On the soaring walls of this edifice designed for the ages, key passages from his world-changing thoughts would be etched, thereby indicating to even the most casual of visitors what was important and what they must strive to recall and even cherish. The words of his sermon at the Ebenezer Baptist Church were selected… then mangled, insulted, diminished by the very folk charged with revering and protecting the great man’s legacy. These by eviscerating his words became the killers of his message. Little men, they took it upon themselves to rethink, rewrite, and paraphrase what was already perfect and needed no help from them to ring out resolutely for the ages.

Paraphrase.

The culprits of this drama, the monument’s organizers, decided to paraphrase the original, searing words from a man sensing the culmination of his life and work… and so rendered in stone the crucial words from his last Atlanta sermon thus:

“I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness.”

Thus they outraged the man, his message, his meaning. For what they chose to engrave in the stone was profoundly different from King’s remarks and purpose. These people, thinking of the good they were doing, instead were transgressing on matters high and mighty, matters they should have left alone.

Why did they do it?

They could not fit the famous passage in the space provided by the architect… they did not wish to leave it out… and so they decided upon the expedient of paraphrase. In so doing they rewrote the passage, gave it quotation marks so readers would wrongly assume the words were accurate, and so they slaughtered what they were charged with preserving. To read the dictionary definition of paraphrase is to see how greatly they erred:

“a restatement of a text, passage, or work giving the meaning in another form.”

But these words, from this man, spoken at such a time and place needed tender care… never to be altered or tampered with.

Imagine if you will what would have happened if the organizers of the Lincoln Memorial, hard by Dr. King’s, had paraphrased the Gettysburg Address, so…

“87 years ago, our ancestors created a great nation of liberty where all men are created equal..

Now we’re in a civil war to test whether this great nation with its great ideas can continue to exist…”

Simply paraphrasing great Lincoln’s great words makes it instantly apparent what an outrage paraphrasing can be… and demonstrates why the diminished words and their diminished meaning must instantly be removed. If space can be found for them, so much the better, but, if not, the right thing must be to take them down at once.

The organizers will of course complain about the extra work, the inconvenience, and especially the cost. They will also tell you that they ran their ludicrous and insulting plan to paraphrase before the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, which was overseeing the design. They, Philistines all, had no problem with the proposal, thereby indicating their unfitness for their work.

Here the honesty and rage of the poet enter. For Maya Angelou knows that “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the word was God.” (John 1-1). This is known by every poet, and is surely Angelou’s abiding creed. It is also Our Saviour’s whose words “Noli me tangere” (John 20-17), so disregarded by the monument’s organizers, are so very apt and must constitute the last word on the matter.

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

* * * * *
About The Author

Dr. Jeffrey Lant is known worldwide. He started in the media business
when he was 5 years old, a Kindergartener in Downers Grove, Illinois,
publishing his first newspaper article. Since then Dr. Lant has earned
four college degrees, including the Ph.D. from Harvard.

He has taught at over 40 colleges and universities, quite possibly the
first to offer satellite courses. He has written over 20 books, thousands
of articles and been a welcome guest on hundreds of radio and television
programs.

He has founded several successful corporations and businesses
including his latest at …writerssecrets.com

His memoirs “A Connoisseur’s Journey” have garnered five prizes
that ensure its classic status. Its subtitle is “Being the artful memoirs
of a man of wit, discernment, pluck, and joy.” You’ll enjoy the read by
this man of so many letters.

Such a man can offer you thousands of insights into the business of
becoming a successful writer.

Be sure to sign up now at www.writerssecrets.com
To celebrate Dr. Jeffrey Lant’s 69th birthday we’re
GIVING AWAY

ONE MILLION COPIES (that’s 1,000,000!!!)

of the most important book on how to make
money in ANY job or business by increasing  your
writing, marketing, and comunication skills.

‘How to be a writer who makes money, flies high, and
dazzles the folks back home. Oh, yeah!”

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Don’t let educational negligence hold you back.

Dr. Lant is the real deal.
Two Harvard degrees!
over 20 books including

CASH COPY
THE UNABASHED SELF-PROMOTER’S GUIDE
MONEY MAKING MARKETING
THE CONSULTANT’S KIT
HOW TO MAKE A WHOLE LOT MORE THAN
$1,000,000 WRITING, COMMISSIONING,  PUBLISHING
AND SELLING HOW-TO INFORMATION.
AND MANY MORE!

Now put one of the world’s best known and successful
marketers to work for YOU!

THIS BOOK IS ABSOLUTELY FREE. Get Your Copy HERE!