February, the shortest and coldest month on this part of the planet, is the time in which schoolchildren learn that Black Americans did far more than just suffer enslavement in these United States. Children all over learn (just short weeks after MLK’s dream-filled celebrations) that George Washington Carver was a peanut genius, Rosa Parks got tired and wouldn’t give up her bus seat to a white man, and that Black people are all God-fearing and without the reverends and churches of the post-WWII era, the Civil Rights movement wouldn’t have been a success.
I’m skipping over my (minor) quibbles with the month for this post, as I genuinely wish to make it clear that Atheists really need to support Black History Month for the simple fact that one of our own invented it!
Carter G. Woodson, autodidact who graduated with his Ph.D. from Harvard, was a leading thinker who came up with the idea of Negro History Month in 1926. He hoped, (as does this writer) that the need for the commemoration would someday become obsolete.
Woodson was a staunch critic of religious institutions and wrote that they were oppressive to Blacks. Just as he believed that the accomplishments and the global influence of Black people were unreported or at best under represented, the influence of freethinking and atheist people, particularly concerning American history, have been diminished.
Today’s Google Doodle, which celebrates the anniversary of the birth of African-American poet, and columnist, Langston Hughes, is also a great opportunity for atheists to remind folks that Hughes was also without religion. In his 1932 poem, “Goodbye Christ” he wrote,
You did alright in your day, I reckon—
But that day’s gone now.
They ghosted you up a swell story, too,
Called it Bible—
But it’s dead now,
The popes and the preachers’ve
Made too much money from it.
So, I’m delighted to be part of the FTB family, and I think it a happy coincidence that I’m launching in February. I look very much forward to doing more to afflict the comfortable and making the acquaintence of the readers here.
Pieter B, FCD says
And I’m delighted to be the first to welcome you to FTB. Welcome aboard!
Fantastic! Welcome to FTB, Jamila! This first piece is giving me life already.
Oh, looks like I’m first – maybe because I also have a birthday in February.
Welcome to FTB!
Yay! Love you jamila!
Al Dente says
Hi Jamila! So glad you’re here. Very much looking forward to reading what you have to say.
Did not know that. Very cool!
And welcome! I look forward reading more of your work, so inflict away.
Trav Mamone says
I always found it disturbing that Black History Month is held on the shortest month of the year.
Cathy F says
Welcome! I’ve already learned a couple of things and read a new poem that made me smile, so I really look forward to hearing lots more from you.
Ed told us to go say hello to you, and I’m proud to be the first!
I used to teach Latin in a big Texas high school. I looked around and noticed that the social studies and English departments weren’t even mentioning Black History Month, even though I felt that they should have been.
I decided to incorporate it into my lesson plans. I put up two posters with pictures of MLK and Rosa Parks and had my students to paste descriptive words and sentences on the posters, making sure that adjectives agreed with the gender of the person they were describing. When our lovely posters were finished, we hung them in the hall.
My students told me that I was their first teacher to have a Black History project that year. I suppose that we shamed the social studies and English departments, since they began to acknowledge the month.
Perhaps it’s because I was raised in a northern state, but I consider this to be an important part of our culture. My students who were black seemed to appreciate that their middle-aged white Latin teacher included their special month in a way that honored them and gave them another way to use their language skills.
Welcome to FTB. I’ll be interested to follow your blog.
Welcome to FTB!
Marcus Ranum says
I look very much forward to doing more to afflict the comfortable
I for one, look forward to it, too! Welcome!!
chigau (違う) says
MG Myers says
I’m excited to see that you have joined Freethought Blogs!
Hi, Jamila! Glad to see you around here. I’ve always enjoyed you as a speaker at conferences. I look forward to your blog.
NateHevens. He who hates straight, white, cis-gendered, able-bodied men (not really) says
YES! YOU’RE ON FTB! THIS PLACE JUST GOT SO MUCH MORE AWESOME!
Welcome. I hope you enjoy it here. I, for one, am very excited to see you here. 😀
Welcome to the blog. I look forward to reading more of your thoughts. Thanks to you I learned a new thing. Thank you.
Remember: Ed Brayton likes his Blueberry pies made with suger PLUS bourbon in the mix. Not just sugar!
Happy to have you here.
Welcome, Jamila! I think I first heard you speak on The Thinking Atheist podcast, and I was charmed. I’m so looking forward to your blogging. Cheers!
I’m sure there’ll be plenty of regulars from the other FTB blogs along to welcome you (as well as those … other folk wanting to afflict your levels of comfort, who should mostly be ignored). I hope you enjoy it here, and I’m looking forward to what you’ve got to write about!
It’s great to see you at FTB. I’ve enjoyed listening to you at various conferences over the past few years. I presume you will be at the upcoming AA meeting in Memphis.
When you have time, it wouldn’t hurt to post a list of whichever conferences you have publicly announced plans to attend.
As for Dr. Woodson, did he create Black History Week, or was he the one who expanded it from a week to a month? I don’t recall. Thanks, and welcome.
To answer my own question, I see on line that 1926 was when Dr. Woodson created the history week, and the conversion to a month happened from 1969 to 1976.
I think this is important, because it answers the question why Black History Month is the shortest of the year. Turns out it was just chance. It would be odd if coincidences never happened. Thanks.
I don’t have much to say about this post, being a white guy in a foreign country. Different mix of races and a different attitude to religions makes the situation in the US look quite different to my experience as a Brit.
I’m delighted too and looking forward to reading more.
I also look forward to reading what you have to say!
Nick Gotts says
Greetings! I look forward to reading your blog. AFAIK, we don’t have an equivalent of Black History Month in the UK, although there have been black people here continuously at least since the 16th century (and since some members of the Roman legions occupying the place were undoubtedly black, there was an earlier black population that blended in during or after the occupation); and British prosperity was built largely on the labour of enslaved and colonised people of colour.
Welcome! Looking forward to reading your blog, I didn’t know that about Black History Month, good thing to point out when atheists whine about a lack of a “white history month”.
Sheila Crosby says
I’m delighted that you’re here. Any chance of a post introducing yourselffor those of us who don’t know?
Edward Black says
Always glad to read a new blogger, but why are you writing all in caps? It feels like you are shouting at me.
Edward Black says
Sorry, my computer had a meltdown, on your page the font size for some reason went up to 175%. Please delete my previous comment.
Greetings and welcome!
May you have the best of luck in your SPARring on FTB!
I’m sorry this post is lacking in substance but I just wanted to say that I’m happy you’re here at FtB. So.
“Yay! I’m happy you’re here a FtB!”
Hopefully, I’ll have something of greater substance to contribute in the future. But still. YAY!
Welcome welcome welcome! So pleased to see you on here. I had not heard of Hughes but looked him up when I saw the doodle. Will be checking out more of his work in the future I think.
Looking forward to reading more of your blog. G’day from Adelaide, South Australia and best wishes.
Must confess, I’ve never heard of either Carter G. Woodson or Langston Hughes before so you’ve already informed me about a couple of people I didn’t know before! Thankyou.
tierra de antilopes says
Welcome to FTB, Jamila!
Welcome, Jamila!! And Happy Black History Month right back to you!! I hope it’s a nice run for you here in FtB. All my best…
Hello Jamila. I haven’t read any of your work before, so I won’t say any more until I get to know you better. Hope your move to Free Thought Blogs goes well.
throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble says
I’m so glad you’re here Jamila! I can’t wait to understand what you have to say.
George Peterson says
Welcome to the club!
Glad you are on FTB. I’m looking forward to reading more from you.
Tony! The Queer Shoop says
Congratulations on joining FtB, Jamila! I hope you enjoy it.
Welcome! I look forward to reading more
Tabby Lavalamp says
Welcome, welcome, welcome! I am THRILLED to have you here! Every time i hear you speak, i both enjoy it and am left with something to think about. As usual, I have learned something new from you. Excellent info that the originator of Black History Month was an atheist.
Please blog often!
Lynna, OM says
Welcome Jamila. I enjoyed the addition of the Langston Hughes poem in your post.
Underreported black people — that’s a real problem. It plagued my education, that’s for sure. It’s difficult to make up the lost ground when the underreporting is a virus that affects all levels of our culture.
Would love to see a brief bio and photo of you in the sidebar. I like your header “sex, politics and religion” along with the cartoon version of your face. The “spar with …” text is too small and too difficult to read.
Lynna, OM says
My comment is “awaiting moderation”? Do you moderate all comments?
It’s a pretty normal default setting for the first time a commenter comments on a new WordPress blog. The good thing is, probably all further comments will go through auto-magically after Jamila approves! *tests*
YAY! Great news! Welcome. I’m so looking forward to seeing your comments
Welcome to the FTB! I look forward to reading your blog posts.
Raucous Indignation says
Ophelia Benson says
And we’re even more delighted to have you!
Anne Fenwick says
@27 – Black History month in the UK is in October, Nick. There’s some info here about how and when it was set up and why October was chosen.
I imagine the number of events must vary a lot depending on where you are. Here in London, it’s pretty active,
I am looking forward to your posts. Welcome.
Welcome to the FTBs! And the oddest, diversest mix of komentariat online!
John Horstman says
Ahahahahahahahahahaha! Awesome! I’m so psyched about you blogging here, welcome welcome welcome!
I’m excited to see you here! I’ve always been impressed by your work.
A belated welcome to the blogs of the thought of free. =^.^=