The month of February is designated as Black History Month. Here’s a brief history of how it came to be. Originally, Black History Month was Black History Week. In 1926, writer and historian Carter G. Woodson and several other prominent blacks designated the second week in February as a time to celebrate. The second week was chosen because Mr. Woodson wanted to honor Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, who both had birthdays during the second week of February. Because he was disheartened by the way that blacks were being portrayed, Mr. Woodson thought it was important to highlight the achievements and contributions that black Americans had made. Black History Week was eventually expanded to Black History Month and was officially recognized by the government in 1976.
There are numerous activities that one can engage in during this month to learn more about black people. You can read books by and about black people. You can listen to music created and performed by black people. Take an African dance class. You can watch movies starring, written, and directed by black people. You can eat foods that originated in Africa such as okra or indulge in some good ol’ Southern soul food. You can, also, learn a few words of African languages such as Kiswahili, Lingala, or Yoruba.
Black History Month is a very exciting time for the Seminole Indian Scout Cemetery Association. We have an uptick in interest in our organization during this time because people are searching for black history that is not widely known, and, fortunately or unfortunately, depending how you look at it, the history of the Black Seminoles fits the bill. My goal is to continue promoting the history and the legacy of the Black Seminoles. As our matriarch Miss Charles Emily Wilson told writer Jeff Guinn in Our Land Before We Die: “All I want, right now, is each day for one more person to learn our history. There is great power in one. This is what I always want, that one more person should know our story.”
On the 25th of February, my niece and I will be speaking at the Fort Clark Historical Society’s monthly meeting. I am really looking forward to speaking about Miss Charles Emily Wilson and the Seminole Indian Scout Association (SISCA). I have been a member of SISCA for more than half of my life, and I am very passionate about our history and the promotion of that history. My niece Windy will be speaking about the Negro spirituals.
I am happy to be given the opportunity to do what Miss Charles set out to do — to tell our story, even if it’s one person at a time.
Note: This blog was published as an article in the 1/30/17 edition of the Kinney County Post.