Black History Month is celebrated during the month of February. During the entire month activities and programs are presented nationwide to honor the contributions, the history, and the traditions of African Americans. The celebration of African Americans began in 1926 with Negro History Week which was initiated by Carter G. Woodson, a black educator. He chose the second week of February as Negro History Week because the birthdays of President Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass fell within that week. Since 1976, the entire month of February has been designated as Black History Month. This year’s theme for Black History Month is “The Crisis in Black Education”. This theme will address the obstacles that African Americans have confronted in trying to achieve an education.
From the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH)
The theme for 2017 focuses on the crucial role of education in the history of African Americans. ASALH’s founder Carter G. Woodson once wrote that “if you teach the Negro that he has accomplished as much good as any other race he will aspire to equality and justice without regard to race.” Woodson understood well the implications associated with the denial of access to knowledge, and he called attention to the crisis that resulted from persistently imposed racial barriers to equal education.
The crisis in black education first began in the days of slavery when it was unlawful for slaves to learn to read and write. In pre-Civil War northern cities, free blacks were forced as children to walk long distances past white schools on their way to the one school relegated solely to them. Whether by laws, policies, or practices, racially separated schools remained the norm in America from the late nineteenth century well into our own time.
Throughout the last quarter of the twentieth century and continuing today, the crisis in black education has grown significantly in urban neighborhoods where public schools lack resources, endure overcrowding, exhibit a racial achievement gap, and confront policies that fail to deliver substantive opportunities. The touted benefits of education remain elusive to many blacks of all ages. Tragically, some poorly performing schools serve as pipelines to prison for youths.
Yet, African American history is rich in centuries-old efforts of resistance to this crisis: the slaves’ surreptitious endeavors to learn; the rise of black colleges and universities after the Civil War; unrelenting battles in the courts; the black history movement; the freedom schools of the 1960s; and local community-based academic and mentorship programs that inspire a love of learning and thirst for achievement. Addressing the crisis in black education should be considered one of the most important goals in America’s past, present, and future.
Gethsemane United Methodist Church is hosting a variety of activities to commemorate the month.
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 12
AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY MONTH KICKOFF
10:00am ● The theme for 2017 focuses on the crucial role of education in the history of African Americans. This year, the nation is asked to look at the aspects of Black education which can be held up as a source of celebration and example of contributing to Black progress, while also identifying opportunities for improvement. Presented by the Religious Arts Ministry.
TOUR OF NATIONAL MUSEUM FOR AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY AND CULTURE
1:00pm ● Gethsemane’s Young Adult, Youth, and Children’s ministries will visit the newest addition on the National Mall. The museum features close to 37,000 objects in its collection about the African American experience related to such subjects as community, family, the visual and performing arts, religion, civil rights, slavery, and segregation. Advanced Registration Required.
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 19
CHALK ON THE WALL: THE CRISIS IN BLACK EDUCATION
10:00am ● Current and former educators share their perspective on the state of Black Education in America. In this digital presentation, viewers will better understand the challenges and opportunities there are in improving education outcomes for children of color. Presented by the Religious Arts Ministry.
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 26
HBCU RECOGNITION SUNDAY
10:00am ● It's time to show your school spirit and/or allegiance! Put away your usual Sunday attire and wear your favorite Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) paraphernalia. This Sunday, we will celebrate HBCUs. If you did not attend an HBCU, feel free to wear attire representing your Greek letter organization or the school of your choice. Presentation and roll call will be made during the morning worship service.
GETHSEMANE READS: HARRIET TUBMAN; THE MOSES OF HER PEOPLE
12:00pm ● Gethsemane Reads will meet to discuss the book Harriet Tubman, The Moses Of Her People, by Sarah Bradford. Bradford’s account recalls the courageous life of Harriet Tubman, one of the best-known “conductors” on the Underground Railroad. The book discussion will take place in the Fellowship Hall immediately following morning worship service.
THROUGHOUT THE MONTH
WHAT CAN WE DO TO ADDRESS THE CRISIS IN BLACK EDUCATION?
Gethsemane has nearly 15 elementary, middle, and high schools as neighbors. What are your ideas or suggestions on how our congregation can work to help address the crisis in Black Education in our local Prince George’s County community. Use sticky notes to post your thoughts and ideas on the bulletin board in the narthex.