YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE BLACK TO CELEBRATE, BUT IT HELPS
It’s February, so that means it’s Black History Month! It’s also the shortest month of the year too. How dare they, you might say! Well, before I threw a garbage can through Sal’s Pizzeria window, Do The Right Thing style, I found out why it is in the shortest month of the year and calmed down. The holiday started in 1926. Historian Carter G. Woodson began “Negro History Week”. Mr. Woodson chose the second week of February because it was the birthdays of two Americans who were a great influence to the lives of African Americans: President Abraham Lincoln and former slave turned abolitionist, Frederick Douglass. Woodson also founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. It’s now referred to as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, or as it’s commonly know in Birmingham, Living in Ensley.
I was glad to find out the truth behind the holiday. All this time I thought President Calvin Coolidge created Black History Month after losing a bet with young, up and coming poet, Langston Hughes. I should have known a whole holiday based on recognizing black history couldn’t have hinged on who could write the best dirty limerick about Herbert Hoover. Boy is my face red.
According to Wikipedia, “Black History Month is a national annual observance for remembrance of important people and events in the history of the African diaspora.” Great, now I have to Wikipedia the word diaspora. It also states “It is celebrated annually in the United States and Canada.” So to the seven black people in Quebec, I wish you a happy Black History Month, Aye! Since it is an observance and remembrance of important people and events in Black History, I’d like to point out a few.
Recently the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth passed away. Side-by-side with Martin Luther King, Mr. Shuttlesworth helped lead the fight against segregation and racism as a minister in Birmingham, Alabama. He’s such a boon to Black, Birmingham and American history. Sadly, some felt his death was overshadowed by the fact that Apple CEO, Steve Jobs died the exact same day. Both were revered for their separate accomplishments and will be missed.
Since we’re on the subject, I was watching the Grammy Awards Sunday, and one of my favorite parts comes on. The montage homage to all the influential and famous people who contributed to music, that had died recently. Etta James, Whitney Houston were shown of course and also Steve Jobs for what he and Apple have done to revolutionize how we buy, sell, and listen to music.
Then I noticed someone was missing. DON CORNELIUS! I know Jobs did some cool stuff, but for the Grammys to mention Jobs and not Don Cornelius? What the Control Alt Shift were they thinking?! Yeah, I know that’s a PC thing. Just go with it! Soul Train was awesome. I loved watching that show. Don Cornelius did a hell of a lot more for the music industry than Steve. You’re the Grammys for God’s sake. Soul Train helped paved the way for so many African American musicians from The Jackson Five, Chaka Khan, Prince, Stevie Wonder, Run DMC, and the late Whitney Houston. Don even had Hall & Oates and David Bowie on there.
DAVID BOWIE! And as anyone knows, just a dash of Bowie makes everything way cooler. Don Cornelius knew this as well. At least host, LL Cool J said something about Don when they came back from commercial. Way to pick up the ball LL that the Grammys dropped.
I could go on about things you can easily look up online or in an encyclopedia. Instead, I’ll concentrate now on Black History related facts you won’t readily find on the internet or in ancient tomes.
BLACK HISTORY FACT #1. We don’t all love fried chicken and watermelon. I and many of us do, but I don’t know any self respecting White Southerner who doesn’t enjoy a drumstick and a cool slice of melon on a hot summer day. That’s just science!
BLACK HISTORY FACT #2 Black people do not smoke or love to smoke weed more than anyone else. They smoke it, but so does everybody. All white people don’t smoke weed, but I don’t know a white person who doesn’t smoke weed. And I know a lot of white people.
BLACK HISTORY FACT #3 Only black guys like big asses. That’s simply not true. We LOVE big asses! And so do many of my white buddies. You think all those big bootyed white girls in Walmart, shopping at 3:00 a.m. are headed back home to a guy named Leroy? I beg to differ. Freddie Mercury was gay, but even he knew “Fat bottom girls, you make this rockin world go round.”
BLACK HISTORY FACT #4 I know way more white Leroys than black ones.
BLACK HISTORY FACT #5 Black women are overly assertive and aggressive to their men. Big myth! I’ve been emasculated by a Black woman, White woman, Indian woman, Korean woman and a Thai woman. I have been bitched at by a veritable Benetton Ad of ladies over the years and I have one thing to say to all of them. I did put the toilet seat down! Maybe you left it up! Who doesn’t look before they sit down anyway? That’s just goofy! You put the toilet seat down! I guess I told them.
Black, white or otherwise, please take time to celebrate or learn about Black History Month in your own way. And remember, it’s not just Black History. It’s American History.
American history that’s worth celebrating.
Happy Black History month everyone.
By the way. When I’m not writing, I also draw. Check out my facebook page where you’ll see that for everyday in February, I’ll post an illustration commemorating Black History Month. Go to facebook.com/chrisozdavis and see history unfold. Or at least see history as I like to draw it. Thanks and hope you enjoy.