Pittsford PTSA Celebrates Black History Month - Introduction: The African Diaspora

WELCOME (in Swahili, "Karibu Sana!")

February is Black History Month, a time dedicated to celebrating influential Black Americans and people of African descent in communities worldwide. Black people's contributions have inspired schools and communities in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom to organize local celebrations, establish history clubs, and host performances and lectures.

What is the connection between Black History Month and the Month of February?

Did you know that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded on February 12, 1909—the centennial anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth?

Black History Week first celebrated in 1915 and was established by Carter G. Woodson, a Harvard-trained historian.

In 1926, Woodson proposed and launched the annual February observance of “Negro History Week,” which became “Black History Month” in 1976.

It is said that Mr. Carter chose February because the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass—a prominent African American abolitionist— fall on February 12 and 14, respectively.

Black History Month offers opportunities to reinforce the PTSA’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in our schools. For example, National African American Parent Involvement Day (NAAPID) is Feb. 8th. Initiated in 1995, the day was inspired by the Million Man March (video) and created as an outreach effort to encourage more parents to practice the goals of NAAPID.

 

OUR PROGRAM - BLACK HISTORY IS AMERICAN HISTORY

Throughout February, we will share our PTSA programming. After viewing this introduction, please bookmark the page and return to our website each week. Here you will find interviews, historical profiles, and resources providing snapshots of the culture and the legacy of the African Diaspora and life in America.


We know that it is essential to create welcoming schools and classrooms where differences in language, culture, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, unique abilities, etc., are viewed as assets rather than deficits. An awareness and acceptance of these differences are foundational to the success of all students.

 

WEEKLY SPOTLIGHT - Dr. Basile Siewe, Ph.D.

This week, we feature an interview with Dr. Basile Siewe. Originally from Cameroon, West-Central Africa, Dr. Siewe is a viral immunologist living in San Diego. Basile’s work contributes to the development of treatments for cancer, autoimmune and infectious diseases.

Listen to Dr. Siewe’s interview to learn about his experiences as an African man living in the United States and his inspiration for pursuing life as a biomedical research scientist.

 

The African Diaspora

Black history month is a time for celebration, learning, and reflection on the rich contributions that Black people have and continue to make in our country and worldwide.

While the beginnings of life in the American colonies and other European colonies are intertwined with the brutal realities of slavery, segregation, and racism, the history of Black people and Black Americans is inspiring. The contributions and the history of Black people run so much deeper than the oppressive conditions that were and continue to be imposed.


Remembering African Roots

We hope that this Black History Month program will remind people of facts they may have learned previously. But it can also provide opportunities to learn new information that brings greater awareness and understanding of American history and the strides that Black Americans have made in shaping the history, culture, the arts, business, industrial, scientific, medical and technology sectors of our society.

Black American history is American history, but importantly it must be acknowledged that Black history begins in Africa and flows from the continent like a network of mighty rivers.

In 1964, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) launched an initiative to remedy the general ignorance on Africa’s history.

The challenge consisted of reconstructing Africa’s history, freeing it from racial prejudices ensuing from slave trade and colonization, and promoting an African perspective.

The General History of Africa (GHA) is a pioneering corpus, unparalleled in its ambition to cover the history of the entire African continent, from the first appearance of human beings to contemporary challenges faced by Africans and their diasporas in the world.

In his new six-hour series, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. takes an in-depth look at the history of Africa's Great Civilizations, from the birth of humankind to the dawn of the 20th century.

This is a journey through two hundred thousand years of history—from the origins of art, writing, and civilization itself on the African continent—through the millennia in which Africans shaped not only their own rich cultures but those of the wider world as well.

It is a history that no longer leaves the pre-colonial period in the shadows and that profoundly integrates the destiny of Africa into that of humanity by highlighting its relations with the other continents and the contribution of African cultures to the general progress of humanity.


 

Additional Resources

 

Notable Black Americans

While there are numerous Black Americans that could be added to these lists, here are a few examples of individuals that have made noteworthy contributes through the ages:

 

Pittsford Central PTSA, NYSPTA and National PTA Resources

 

Pittsford Central School District and Monroe County Resources

If you have questions regarding any of this material, you may reach the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee at DEI@pittsfordptsa.net

 

Indigenous Land Acknowledgement

We acknowledge the Seneca people as the traditional custodians of the land that we are on and for their enduring presence. We would also like to pay respects to Elders past and present of the Hodinöhsö:ni' Confederacy, and we extend that respect to any other indigenous people who are present with us today. We make this acknowledgment as a first step in fulfilling our responsibility to critically look at colonial histories and their present-day implications as we pay respect to the keepers of the land, and the land itself. We are aware that acknowledgment is not reparation, and land acknowledgment without active steps towards education, support of the Seneca Nation, and sincere efforts to undo colonial legacies means very little.



Access these links to view all content provided for the Black History Month Program