Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Black History Month – February 2014: A Perspective of Yesteryear, Today, and Tomorrow

Errol A Gibbs
Black African slavery began in the year 1518, by the sanction of the slave trade by the Spanish New World ( Slavery in America began when the first African slaves were brought to the North American colony of Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619, to aid in the production of such lucrative crops as tobacco. Slavery was practiced throughout the American colonies in the 17th and 18th centuries, and African-American slaves helped build the economic foundations of the new nation (

The signing of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 01, 1863 brought slavery to an end in various stages in the United States, and eventually throughout other colonies in Africa, Central and South America, Europe, and the West Indies. Lamentably, new struggles emerged for the next 100 years (1863 – 1964), until the mid-1900s that ushered in the signing of The Civil Rights Act of 1964 ( Although Black African slavery was an unprecedented ‘moral triumph’ for all of humanity, slavery did not end as a righteous ‘act of repentance’ for the broken trust among human beings. War objectives (American Civil War (1861-1865); the economics of production, humanitarian and religious agitation, industrialization and mechanization, and rebellion made the continuance of slavery unsustainable.

Black African slavery history was an unfathomable human catastrophe; it is indelibly recorded in the pages of 6000 years of human history. This unmitigated transatlantic human tragedy is a stark warning to all of humanity of the perils of man’s will in violation of God’s will. Some estimates are that about 12 million [slaves] were shipped across the Atlantic, although the actual number purchased by the traders is considerably higher (

Introductory Maps (
Source: David Eltis and David Richardson, Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade (New Haven, 2010), reproduced with the permission of Yale University Press. For permission to reuse these images, contact Yale University Press.

The perils of post-slavery: Between 1882 and 1930 the American South experienced an epidemic of fatal mob violence that produced more than 3,000 victims, the vast majority of whom were Africans. Lynching victims were murdered by being hanged, shot, burned, drowned, dismembered, or dragged to death ( Many may have cried: (“E‘-li, E’-li, la-ma sa-bach-tha-ni?” (Matthew 27:46 NKJV)).

A Portrait of slavery in Canada (17th – 18th centuries): Black slaves lived in the British regions of Canada in the 17th and 18th centuries. The Imperial Act of 1790 assured prospective immigrants that their slaves would remain their property. As under French rule, Loyalist slaves were held in small numbers and were employed as domestic servants, farm hands, and skilled artisans (

Negro History Week (1926): The precursor to Black History Month was created in 1926 in the United States, when historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History announced the second week of February to be "Negro History Week." This week was chosen because it marked the birthday of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.¹

Black History Month in the United States (1976): The expansion of Black History Week to Black History Month was first proposed by the leaders of the Black United Students at Kent State University in February 1969. The first celebration of the Black History Month took place at Kent State one year later, in February 1970. In 1976 as part of the United States Bicentennial, the informal expansion of Negro History Week to Black History Month was officially recognized by the U.S. government.²

Black History Month in United Kingdom (1987): Black History Month was first celebrated in the United Kingdom in 1987. This establishment of Black History Month is generally attributed to the work of Ghanaian analyst Akyaaba Addai-Sebo, as well as the Greater London Council.³

Black History Month in Canada (1995): In 1995, after a motion by politician Jean Augustine, Canada's House of Commons officially recognized February as Black History Month and honor Black Canadians. In 2008, Senator Donald Oliver moved to have the Senate officially recognize Black History Month, which was unanimously approved (¹²³

The Past Fifty Years (1964 - 2014): Despite the history of segregation (1849 – 1950) and segregated schools, Blacks have made remarkable progress as individuals ( Notably, Emmett W. Chappelle, one of the 100 most distinguished African American scientists and engineers of the 20th Century, Courtesy of NASA (

Blacks have made unparalleled contributions to the advancement of Western civilization and the world, from great academics, to legendary artists, to athletes, to writers, to engineers, to inventors, to scientists, and through the genius of many great inventions. Paradoxically, when one examines the inventory of executive leaders in corporations, politics, sports, and high-finance, there is a notable deficit in representative numbers of Black men and Black women in positions of high influence. Black History Month should be a month for personal and collective reflection; a period to report on past and present accomplishments, and to create a vision and mission for the future.

The Next Fifty Years (2014 – 2064): What can Blacks do to better influence political, social, and economic survival in the future during Black History Month February 2014? Following is a brief summary of 10 actions that Blacks MUST take immediately to become powerful instruments, to enlighten, to empower, and to liberate us on every continent. Other races and cultures may find context to alleviate their challenges as well.

  • Black History Month February 2014: Black leaders should come together to craft a vision and mission with specific goals and objectives to report on as Millennium Goals. Independent Black organizations can access the report to formulate their Score Cards for reporting throughout succeeding years, and during each Black History Month.

  • Black Parents: strive for love, loyalty and fidelity in marriage. These human attributes are the greatest predicators of longevity in marriage. The family is under siege, in particular the Black family, with social and economic challenges. The home is the first society of ‘altruistic love’. Absenteeism of the Black parent is to inadvertently sabotage the survival of the Black family, perhaps even intentionally.

  • Black Pastors: you have the most significant opportunity to help develop the minds of tens of millions of Black parishioners - globally. Consider five foundations of human development (Spiritual, moral, social, intellectual, and physical development), underpinned by the Spiritual. Some Pastors are custodians of great Black wealth, derived from Blacks sacrificial giving. Expend this wealth to enable Black communities. Avoid self-interest, and strive to live a simple “Spiritually driven life” as opposed to a “materially driven life”. It will please God.

  • Black public figures: lawmakers, law officers, educators, academics, media persons, entertainers and athletes, you have a great opportunity to influence youths – positively. Not essentially as role models, but as living examples for them to mirror. The actions by these professionals have a significant impact on the decisions that youths make on a daily basis. Many Black youths set their agendas by mirroring the actions of Blacks in the public arena. Inadvertently, Black public figures are examples to Black youths.
  • Black professionals: seek to become mentors in Black communities. Black financiers and philanthropically minded individuals and organizations should assist Blacks in financing their businesses. Black financier and entrepreneur strive to be fair, honest, transparent, and trustworthy. These four powerful human attributes can bring healing within Black communities.

  • Black youths: please guard your freedom. Resist the temptation for revenge, and commit to a life of non-violence. The only victors of violence are lawyers and the Prison Industrial Complex. We are interdependent beings. Seek help within the family and community, and from professionals. Do not despise your family, your community, the law, or your nation. Believe in a higher power that can change your life circumstances.

  • Blacks in general: pray for all leaders, in particular Black leaders that they will develop a higher empirical understanding of the needs, priorities, and emergencies within Black communities. Elected Black leaders should assume some level of accountability and responsibility for the calamities that occur within Black communities, because they have access to state control and administrative mechanisms that can make a profound difference.

  • Blacks in general: practice altruistic love, cooperation, and high-integrity in business dealings. Strive to uplift our brothers and sisters in every way possible, despite his or her ‘crooked path’. Pledge to take a ‘fiduciary’ interest in the welfare of children, family, community, and nation. History teaches that in the absence of nurturing in a loving and caring environment, the behaviour of children can negatively impact home, community, nation, and the world.

  • Blacks in general: strive to develop positive self-esteem in children (© 2011 Five Foundations of Human Development - Foundation 3: Social Foundation - 3.4. Self–esteem, pp. 315 – 333). Arguably the largest population of individuals with low self–worth, low self–image, and consequently low self–esteem may be those who are incarcerated. Interestingly, their contact with the justice system may have resulted from attempts to overcome his or her state of powerlessness (

  • Black academics, scientists, educators, and intellectuals: provide guidance on political, scientific, industrial, and economic empowerment. These new perspectives demand a change in academic focus to incorporate a more challenging science based education for Black youths. Expand the range of Black ownership to include salient ownership of major Patents ®, Trademarks (TM), Copyrights (©), Industrial Circuit Designs, Computer Programs, Architectural Designs, etc. These are global economic engines that empower peoples and nations.

Finally, the progress of a people is not measured, essentially by individual progress, but by collective progress. Black progress must manifest in the offering of scholarships, and hiring representative numbers of university and college graduates. Black progress also means offering apprenticeships and internships within Black corporations. It is also essential to engage in positive collaboration with those with power in order to achieve objectives that are mutually beneficial. More importantly, it is “spiritually expedient” to fervently believe in a higher moral authority to guide humanity. Jeremiah, one of Judah’s greatest prophets advises: “O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jeremiah 10:23 NKJV) (circa 627-580 BCE). 

Errol A. Gibbs, Author, Mentor, Researcher (–about Human Development), 
International Motivational Speaker
Books: © 2011 Five Foundations of Human Development (FFHD) & 
Thoughts to Enlighten and Empower the Mind
Tel: 905.875.4956/ Email: Website:

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