Black History Films

28 Days, 28 Films for Black History

History: Black Panther

Fantastic Four #52, where Black Panther was first featured. (Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com and Heritage Auctions)

Fantastic Four #52, where Black Panther was first featured. (Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com and Heritage Auctions)

The Real History Behind the Black Panther

 // FEBRUARY 15, 2018
…[T]he journey from comic book to screen has taken more than 50 years: Black Panther, Marvel Comic’s first black superhero, debuted in Marvel’s “Fantastic 4” comic in 1966, and became a member of the Avengers two years later, but didn’t get his own comic until 1977. To understand more about “Black Panther” and the history it reflects, we got some help from author Adilifu Nama, author of Super Black: American Pop Culture and Black Superheroes Read the entire article here.

 

History: Barbara Jordan

Image result for barbara jordan

Texas congresswoman Barbara Jordan (1936-1996) rose to the national stage from Houston’s largely African-American Fifth Ward, becoming a public defender of the U.S. Constitution and a leading presence in Democratic Party politics for two decades. She was the first black woman elected to the Texas state senate and the first black Texan in Congress. As a member of the House Judiciary Committee, she gave the influential opening speech of Richard Nixon’s 1974 impeachment hearings. She retired after three terms in Congress to become a professor and policy advocate. Read more here and here.

Tennessee lawmakers punish Memphis for removing statue of Confederate and KKK leader

Image result for nathan bedford forrest

Tennessee lawmakers punish Memphis for removing statue of Confederate and KKK leader

A few years before Nathan Bedford Forrest became the leader of the Ku Klux Klan, and decades before a statue of him was dedicated in Memphis, the Confederate general overlooked Fort Pillow and planned how he would destroy the beacon for escaped slaves.

Numerous assaults eroded the garrison in April 1864. When the commander declared that he would not surrender, Forrest sent waves of rebels to finish off the dwindling Union troops — many of them black. “The sight of negro soldiers,” a Confederate witness said afterward, “stirred the bosoms of our soldiers with courageous madness.” The Mississippi River was blood red for 200 yards, Forrest later said.

In 1905, a statue of Forrest on horseback was dedicated in a Memphis park, 40 miles south of the site of the battle and later massacre.

On Tuesday, nearly 154 years to the day that his troops obliterated the fort, Forrest’s ghost — and his statue — haunted the Tennessee legislature.

The Republican-dominated House voted to remove $250,000 earmarked for the Memphis bicentennial next year after the city engineered a way to remove that statue in December, along with a statue of Confederate president Jefferson Davis. The amendment was adopted in a $37.5 million spending bill still working its way through state chambers for approval.

“This is one of the most vile, racist acts I’ve seen happen in the legislature,” state Rep. Antonio Parkinson (D), who represents Memphis, told The Washington Post on Wednesday. Parkinson is part of the majority-black population of Memphis.

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) blasted the amendment.

“From Scopes Monkey Trial, to 10 Commandments resolution of ’96, & now to punishment of Memphis for removing statues that honor leaders of the Confederacy, the TN House of Representatives sadly continues to embarrass Tennessee across the nation,” Cohen wrote Wednesday on Twitter.

Parkinson was joined by House Democrats and several Republicans in opposition to what they called a punitive measure after the December statue removals. The city skirted laws meant to block removals of memorials on public grounds by selling two parks containing the statues to a new nonprofit called Memphis Greenspace for $1,000 each.

 “They act like Nathan Bedford Forrest is their God,” Parkinson said, referring to proponents of the amendment in the House. “What I see is a vicious, violent individual who made his fortunes out of the human slave trade.”  Read the entire article here.

What’s Auschwitz? 2/3 of Millennials Don’t Know it Was a Nazi Death Camp, Survey Reports

What’s Auschwitz? 2/3 of Millennials Don’t Know it Was a Nazi Death Camp, Survey Reports

Image result for auschwitzMost American millennials don’t know what Auschwitz was, a survey finds.

Despite the slaughter of nearly a million Jews — as well as hundreds of thousands of Poles, Roma, Soviet prisoners of war and others — at the World War II Nazi death camp, a survey commissioned by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany found that 66 percent of Americans ages 18 to 34 “cannot identify what Auschwitz was.” The figure for all adults was 41 percent.

The survey also found that 31 percent of all Americans and more than 4-in-10 millennials believe that 2 million Jews or fewer were killed during the Holocaust, substantially less than the historically accepted figure, which is closer to 6 million.

“I was astounded by those figures. This just goes to show the world forgets easily, and we pay a dear price for not remembering,” said Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which works to promote awareness of European genocide. Read the entire article here.

African Americans in the Military

Image result for black history month military

‘We Can Be a Better Country If We Know These Stories.’ The Complicated History of African Americans in the Military

By LILY ROTHMAN   January 31, 2018

There are as many different kinds of war stories as there are people who have been called to fight. There are inspirational war stories, gruesome war stories, sad war stories. But in all of them, necessitated by the very nature of war, there’s some kind of sacrifice. Understanding those sacrifices and why they were made can change the way we see the whole history of war — and of ourselves.

At least, that’s how NYU professor and journalist Yvonne Latty sees it. Her father was a veteran, but it was not until after his death, as she worked on the 2004 book We Were There: Voices of African American Veterans, from World War II to the War in Iraqthat she was able to reframe the stories he had told her during her childhood. She came to understand more deeply how the sacrifices made by African Americans who had served in the U.S. military affected the opportunities that she herself would have in civilian life. She also saw how that deeper understanding could change the way she, and other people of color, saw the world.

Read more of this fascinating article HERE.

Alexa Canady

Image result for alexa canadyAlexa Canady   Surgeon, Educator   (1950–) 

In 1981, Alexa Canady became the first female African-American neurosurgeon in the United States. Dr. Alexa Canady was born on November 7, 1950, in Lansing, Michigan. While she was in college, a summer program inspired her to pursue a medical career. In 1981, she became the first female African-American neurosurgeon in the United States. Canady specialized as a pediatric neurosurgeon and served as chief of neurosurgery at the Children’s Hospital in Michigan from 1987 to 2001.

 

Irene Morgan: Civil Rights Activist

Irene Morgan PhotoIrene Morgan   Civil Rights Activist   (1917–2007)

Irene Morgan was a civil rights activist who, a decade prior to Rosa Parks’ landmark case, won her own U.S. Supreme Court Case in ‘Irene Morgan v. Commonwealth of Virginia,’ which declared interstate transport racial segregation to be unconstitutional. Irene Amos Morgan Kirkaldy (April 9, 1917 – August 10, 2007) was an African-American civil rights activist. More than a decade before Rosa Parks‘ landmark case, Morgan refused to give up her seat on a Greyhound bus. After her arrest for this act of defiance, Morgan sought NAACP counsel and her case made its way to the United States Supreme Court in Irene Morgan v. Commonwealth of Virginia, 328 U.S. 373 (1946).  Read more HERE.

How Watermelons Became a Racist Trope

How Watermelons Became a Racist Trope

Before its subversion in the Jim Crow era, the fruit symbolized black self-sufficiency.

Courtesy Brown University Library

“But the stereotype that African Americans are excessively fond of watermelon emerged for a specific historical reason and served a specific political purpose. The trope came into full force when slaves won their emancipation during the Civil War. Free black people grew, ate, and sold watermelons, and in doing so made the fruit a symbol of their freedom. Southern whites, threatened by blacks’ newfound freedom, responded by making the fruit a symbol of black people’s perceived uncleanliness, laziness, childishness, and unwanted public presence. This racist trope then exploded in American popular culture, becoming so pervasive that its historical origin became obscure. Few Americans in 1900 would’ve guessed the stereotype was less than half a century old. ”  Read the entire article here.