News: Observance for Black History Month
Story by Sgt. Shannon Yount
MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE BARSTOW, Calif. - Black History Month honors some important men and women in our country’s history who’ve fought against inequality and injustice.
The birth of this observance began in 1926, when historian Carter G. Woodson, who has a doctorate in history and founded the Association for the Study of African American Life of History (ASALH), sought to create a date to recognize and honor the heritage, accomplishments and contributions made by black Americans to society, according to Marine Administrative Message 011/13.
More than 80 years later, we observe Black History Month every February. According to the MARADMIN, the theme for this year’s observance is "At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality: The Emancipation Proclamation and the March on Washington." The theme marks two major milestones in the fight for civil rights and black history.
In the early 1900s, the movement for equal treatment of all Americans grew, regardless of ethnicity. Almost a century earlier, black men and women escaped the bonds of slavery and stood up against all odds to fight for civil rights.
One person in particular walked her way to freedom and helped others do the same. Harriet Tubman was born into slavery. At the age of 24, she married a free black man, John Tubman and changed her name from Araminta Ross to Harriet, after her mother. In 1849, in fear of being sold, Tubman escaped the Maryland plantation where she was working.
On foot, Tubman followed the North Star and made her way to Philadelphia. The following year, she returned to Maryland and escorted her sister and her family to the North. Over a ten-year span, Tubman completed 19 trips into the South and led more than 300 slaves to freedom, according to the Harriet Tubman biography at www.pbs. org.
Another prominent American who freed himself from the chains of slavery was Frederick Douglass; often referred to as the “father of the civil rights movement.”
Douglass was a well-known abolitionist, writer, lecturer, statesman and Underground Railroad conductor. He was born into slavery as Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey, on a plantation in Talbot County, Maryland, and later changed his name to Frederick Douglass.
With strong views on freedom and human rights, he tried twice to escape from slavery before he succeeded. He was assisted in his final attempt by Anna Murray, a free black woman in Baltimore whom Douglass had fallen in love with. On September 3, 1838, he boarded a train heading to Havre de Grace, Maryland and within 24 hours he was in New York, according to www.biography.com Frederick Douglass.
Shortly after, Douglass sent for Murray to meet him in New York, where they became man and wife on September 15, 1838. Douglass and his wife settled in a black community in New Bedford, Mass. He became one of the many leaders of the abolitionist movement. While attending meetings, he would speak on his life experiences.
Due to Douglass’ strength in inspiring, motivating and entertaining the audience, William Lloyd Garrison the editor of the abolitionist newspaper ‘The Liberator,’ wrote about Douglass. Shortly after the story was published, Douglass delivered his first speech at the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society’s annual convention, according to his biography.
He wrote and published his first autobiography, ‘Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave,’ in 1845 at the urging of Garrison. The book was a success and translated into several languages across the world. Critics questioned the genuine author of the book; they didn’t think a former slave without any formal education could have possibly produced such an eloquent novel.
During his lifetime, he published three versions of his autobiography, after revising the first. ‘My Bondage and My Freedom,’ published in 1855, and ‘Life and Times of Frederick Douglass’ published in 1892, according to www.biography.com Frederick Douglass.
For more than 50 years, Douglass played an active role in humanism and social justice. He achieved international fame as an inspiring speaker and writer. During his career, he gave thousands of speeches and editorials and imposed a powerful indictment against slavery and racism. He became a symbol of hope for his people and his life’s work will always speak highly of being black in America, according to http://www.history.com/topics/frederick-douglass.