Meeting of February 11, 2019 – Celebrating Black History Month

February 2019 Meeting – Celebrating Black History Month

February is 2019 Black History Month, and in celebration, the Progressive Democrats of Benicia honored local African-Americans for their service and dedication to our local communities. The Club met on Monday, Feb. 11 at 7:00 pm in the Benicia Library’s Dona Benicia Room.

During the meeting four women were honored and shared some of their thoughts about Black History Month:

  • Honorable Terrye D. Davis, Judge, Solano Superior Court
  • Viola Robertson, Exec. Dir., Benicia Community Action Council
  • Dr. Zoee Bartholomew, Ed.D., Commissioner, Benicia Open Government Commission and
  • Novanna (Vonnie) Hunt, Board Member, Benicia Human Services Board.

Gethsemane Moss and K. Patrice Williams moderated the program. Ms. Moss is an Educator and member of the Benicia Arts and Culture Commission, and Ms. Williams is the Founder and President Emeritus of the Solano/Napa Chapter, BWOPA, Black Women Organized for Political Action.

“The Progressive Democrats of Benicia are honored to bring attention to the accomplishments of these African-American women, local women, and to celebrate their longstanding service to our communities,” said Moss and Williams. “We hope they’ll share with us their thoughts on Black History month and what it means to them.”

Black Migrations is the theme for Black History Month 2019. In reading about the theme, “I found that it refers not only to the historical movement of blacks from the American South to the industrialized North, but also to later 20th century movements,” said Ralph Dennis, Chair of Progressive Democrats of Benicia.

Recent migration trends include those from the Caribbean nations into the U.S. and the return of Northern African-Americans to the U.S. South, to cities such as Atlanta and Houston, in search of jobs and better pay.  Gentrification of inner city neighborhoods and re-suburbanization are other examples.

The story of Black History Month begins in 1915, half a century after the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in the United States. That September, the Harvard-trained historian Carter G. Woodson and the prominent minister Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, dedicated to researching and promoting achievements by black Americans and other peoples of African descent. Known today as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), the group sponsored a national Negro History Week in 1926, choosing the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The event inspired schools and communities nationwide to organize local celebrations, establish history clubs and host performances and lectures. Mayors of cities across the country began issuing yearly proclamations recognizing Negro History Week.

By the late 1960s, Negro History Week had evolved into Black History Month on many college campuses. President Gerald R. Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976, calling upon the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Since then, every American president has designated February as Black History Month and endorsed a specific theme.

In addition to the Black History program, the meeting included a short discussion on the latest developments to create a Solano Regional Park District, with expectations of a report and implementation plan from the County to be issued soon.