As a Harvard-trained historian, Carter G. Woodson, like W. E. B. Du Bois before him, believed that truth could not be denied and that reason would prevail over prejudice. His hopes to raise awareness of African American's contributions to civilization was realized when he and the organization he founded, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), conceived and announced Negro History Week in 1925. The event was first celebrated during a week in February 1926 that encompassed the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The response was overwhelming: Black history clubs sprang up; teachers demanded materials to instruct their pupils; and progressive whites, not simply white scholars and philanthropists, stepped forward to endorse the effort.
By the time of Woodson's death in 1950, Negro History Week had become a central part of African American life and substantial progress had been made in bringing more Americans to appreciate the celebration. At mid–century, mayors of cities nationwide issued proclamations noting Negro History Week. The Black Awakening of the 1960s dramatically expanded the consciousness of African Americans about the importance of black history, and the Civil Rights movement focused Americans of all colors on the subject of the contributions of African Americans to our history and culture.
The celebration was expanded to a month in 1976, the nation's bicentennial. 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 Black History Month. By this time, the entire nation had come to recognize the importance of Black history in the drama of the American story. Since then each American president has issued Black History Month proclamations. And the association—now the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH)—continues to promote the study of Black history all year.
(Excerpt above is posted on https://blackhistorymonth.gov/about/, and originates from an essay by Daryl Michael Scott, Howard University, for the Association for the Study of African American Life and History)
Below is a link to a database designed specifically to house information and resources on issues relevant to Black Americans.
Though they are more than 7,500 miles from their home country of Zambia, SUNY Schenectady students Maureen Mbanga and Ngambela Zulu said that they have felt right at home in the Electric City from the time they arrived here a few weeks ago.
“People are just so nice here that it doesn’t even feel like you’re away from home,” Maureen said. “All of the professors and staff and other students have been so welcoming.”
Maureen and Ngamebela both began taking courses at the College this fall after earning full scholarships to SUNY Schenectady this summer. Students in the African Education Program (AEP) in Zambia, they were selected as recipients of the Joan R. Dembinski ’10 Study Abroad Scholarship through the SUNY Schenectady Foundation. This summer, officials from SUNY Schenectady and AEP signed an agreement establishing a collaboration to develop academic and educational cooperation between the two institutions.
One thing that surprised them was how approachable College faculty have been. Maureen explained, “Here the students are open to talking to professors in the hallway or after class which is really nice.”
Ngamebela and Maureen with Dr. Steady Moono, College President, and Julie-Anne Savarit-Cosenza, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the African Education Program, in Zambia this summer.
Maureen is a Mathematics and Science major who loves “fixing things.” She describes that as the basis for her career goal: electrical engineering. Growing up in Zambia, Maureen not only participated in education programs offered through the African Education Program, she also volunteered as a tutor in Math and Biology for younger students. She is enjoying meeting students at the College and the faster pace at SUNY Schenectady.
She is excited about the four classes she is taking this semester. “I’m very happy because this is a great opportunity for me and for my family,” she said. “As a kid, I used to joke to the other kids that someday I will be in America. I wasn’t serious, but now it has come true.”
Ngambela Zulu is a Culinary Arts major whose household chore of cooking for his family when he was growing up quickly became more of a passion. For the past two years, he has been cooking lunch in a tiny kitchen, Monday through Friday, for more than 200 students attending the Amos Youth Centre, and taking culinary courses online. (He recently learned how to bake scones and has been teaching his friends how to make them.)
He is eager to start learning new culinary techniques in the Culinary Arts Labs at the College. “This is a dream come true for me and a life achievement,” he said. His goal is to become a professional chef and open his own restaurant and culinary academy in Zambia.