today in black history

June 12, 2021

NAACP Field Secretary and civil rights leader, Medgar Evers, was assassinated in front of his home in Jackson, Mississippi in 1963.

The Black Liberation Flag

POSTED: February 16, 2021, 1:30 pm

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“Emancipate yourself from metal slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds.” - Bob Marley

On Friday, February 19, 2021, Weequahic High school in Newark, NJ will commemorate Black History Month with the raising of the Black Liberation Flag. This will be the nineteenth year the school and community have organized the ceremony. It is an effort to recognize the importance of Black history and Black History Month.

The Black Liberation flag was created by the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL) on August 13, 1920 during its month-long convention at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Its purpose was to symbolize Black empowerment.
The UNIA-ACL was founded by the Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey. He was a Blackman from Jamaica.

The flag was established in 1920 by members of UNIA in response to a racist song that became a hit around 1900 called, “Every Race Has a Flag but the Coon.” This song has been cited as one of the three songs that “firmly established the term coon in the American vocabulary.”

According to the UNIA, the three colors on the Black Nationalist flag represent:
• red: the blood that unites all people of Black African ancestry.
• black: Black people; and
• green: Mother Afrika.

The flag later became a Black nationalist symbol for the worldwide liberation of Black people. As an emblem of Black pride, the flag became popular during the Black Liberation movement of the 1960s and early 1970s. In 1971, the school board of Newark, New Jersey, passed a resolution permitting the flag to be raised in public school classrooms.

The first school district to do so in America.

Therefore, many people within the Afrikan / Afrikan American community honor Black History Month with the raising of the Black Liberation Flag. Black history was established to give us Black pride, a sense of purpose, and a rescued history distorted by white supremacy.

February was designated by the late Africana Studies Professor Dr. Carter G. Woodson as Black History Month. However, in 1926 he began it as Negro History Week. But in the 1960s, Black Power college students renamed Negro History Week to Black History Month.

Presently, many people believe that Black History must be studied every month. However, out of respect for the pioneering work of Dr. Woodson to teach Black people, and the world, our history; we dedicate extra time during February to discuss and analyze the contributions people of Afrikan descent made to America and the world’s civilizations.

Before his death in 1950, Dr. Carter G. Woodson was an outstanding history professor. He founded ASNLH (Association for the Study of Negro Life and History) to help with resources and materials to re-establish the history of Black people . It had branches all over the country.

Although he did not start formal school until he was 19, Dr. Woodson was the second person of Afrikan descent in the world to graduate from Harvard University with a Ph.D. in history.

Sarah Pruitt documents in the History Channel’s website on the history of Dr. Woodson early life. It is titled-The Man Behind Black History Month. Originally published on February 2, 2017, but updated February 2, 2021, she writes, “[he was] born in 1875 in New Canton, Virginia, Woodson had worked as a sharecropper, miner and various other jobs during his childhood to help support his large family. Though he entered high school late, he made up for lost time, graduating in less than two years. After attending Berea College in Kentucky, Woodson worked in the Philippines as an education superintendent for the U.S. government. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Chicago before entering Harvard. In 1912, three years before founding the ASNLH, he became only the second African American (after W.E.B. DuBois) to earn a doctorate from that institution” (https://www.history.com/.amp/news/the-man-behind-black-history-month).

The first Black person to graduate from Harvard was Dr. W. E.B. DuBois in 1896. His dissertation was titled-“The Suppression of the African Slave-Trade.”

Dr. DuBois is considered one of the greatest public intellectuals that ever lived.

Pruitt continues her article on Dr. Woodson by saying, “like DuBois, Woodson believed that young African Americans in the early 20th century were not being taught enough of their own heritage, and the achievements of their ancestors. To get his message out, Woodson first turned to his fraternity, Omega Psi Phi, which created Negro History and Literature Week in 1924. But Woodson wanted a wider celebration, and he decided the ASNLH should take on the task itself.

In February 1926, Woodson sent out a press release announcing the first Negro History Week. He chose February because the month contained the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, two prominent men whose historic achievements African Americans already celebrated. (Lincoln’s birthday was February 12; Douglass, a former slave, hadn’t known his actual birthday, but had marked the occasion on February 14.)” (Ibid).

In closing, please study Black history!!! Use all cell phones and technology to find our history in the world!!!! But most importantly, read books on Afrikan/ Afrikan American history and culture. Our history is more than just Hip Hop, rap music, elected officials, slavery, and colonialism! The missing pages to world and American history is Black history. Raising the Black liberation flag continues to bring needed attention to the necessity of Black history and Black History Month.

Happy Black History Month!

Hotep (An Afrikan Kemetic Egyptian Word for Peace)!


Bashir Muhammad Akinyele is a History and Africana Studies teacher at Weequahic High School in Newark, NJ. He is also the co-coordinator for ASCAC’s (the Association for Study of Classical African Civilizations) Study Group Chapter in Newark, NJ. (https://ascac.org/)

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