As mentioned it the previous blog post, we are focusing solely on Black History Month through-out October here on the PD Blog. Today's post is going to share more about the month long event and some of the facts behind the topic.
Black History Month is a celebration that happens each year and has been since 1976. The event originally began in the US with each president officially designating the month (Feb in US) to Black History Month. As mentioned previously PD is a UK based brand and the month of October is the chosen month for the Black History celebrations hence, our focus on this for the whole of October.
The story of Black History Month began during 1926 when Carter G. Woodson, a noted African American historian, educator and publisher. Woodson and the prominent minister Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), an organization dedicated to researching and promoting achievements by black Americans and other peoples of African descent. In 1976, this developed to the month long celebration of Black History Month.
Each year of the celebration a specific theme is decided by the US president at the time. For 2020 the theme is “African Americans and the Vote,” in honour of the centennial anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment (1920) granting women’s suffrage and the sesquicentennial of the Fifteenth Amendment (1870) giving black men the right to vote.
In light of the celebration this month we wanted to share more key dates that were key turning points when it comes to Black History.
1773 - Charles Ignatius Sancho was the first black British man to vote. In 1773, Sancho and his wife set up a grocer's shop in Westminster. Sancho was very well known and his shop became a meeting place for some of the most famous writers, artists, actors and politicians of the time. As a financially-independent householder, he became the first black person of African origin to vote in parliamentary elections in Britain (1774 & 1780).
1854 - John Mercer Langston became the first black man to become a lawyer.
1906 - Medam C. J. Walker was an American entrepreneur, philanthropist, and political and social activist. She is recorded as the first female self-made millionaire in America.
1908 - Jack Johnson became the first African American man to hold the World Heavyweight Champion boxing title. He held the belt until 1915.
1940 - Hattie McDaniel became the first African American performer to win an Academy Award - this is the film industry's highest honor. Hattie won the award for her portrayal of a loyal slave governess in Gone With the Wind.
1947 - On April 5, Jackie Robinson became the first African American to play Major League Baseball when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers.
1952 - Malcom X becomes a minister of the Nation of Islam.
1955 - Rosa Parks helped initiate the civil rights movement when she refused to give up her seat to a white man on a bus in 1955. Her actions inspired the leaders of the local black community who organised the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The Boycott was led by a young Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and lasted for more than a year. Although Rosa was used as the face of the civil rights movement because of her previous work with the NAACP, it was actually 15 year old Claudette Colvin who was the first to refuse to give up her bus seat. Nine months prior to Rosa, Claudette had refused to give up her seat to a white women of which she was later arrested (still at the age of just 15).
In this same year, Emmett Till was brutally murdered at age 14 for allegedly whistling at a white woman in Mississippi. Two white men charged with the crime were later acquitted by an all white jury. They later boasted about committing the murder. The public outrage generated by the case helped spur the civil rights movement.
1963 - Martin Luther King is arrested and jailed during anti-segregation protests in Birmingham, Ala.
1965 - Malcom X is assassinated in late February.
1966 - The Black Panthers are founded by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale.
1967 - Thurgood Marshall became the first African American to be appointed to the US Supreme Court. He served from 1967 to 1991.
1968 - Shirley Chisholm was elected as the first African American women to join the House of Representatives. Shirley later broke barriers again four years later in 1972 when she was the first major party African American candidate and first female candidate for president of the United States.
1972 - The Tuskegee Syphilis experiment finally ended after beginning in 1932.
1983 - Guion Bluford Jr. became the first African-American in space. He took off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on the space shuttle Challenger.
1990 - Nelson Mandela was freed after 27 years in prison.
1992 - The first race riots in decades erupt in south-central Los Angeles after a jury acquits four white police officers for the videotaped beating of African American, Rodney King.
2001 - When Robert Johnson sold the cable station he had founded, Black Entertainment Television (BET) in 2001 he became the first African American billionaire.
Colin Powell also became the first African American U.S. Secretary of State.
2002 - Halle Berry became the first African American woman to win the Best Actress Oscar. Halle took home the award for her role in Monster's Ball. Denzel Washington, the star of Training Day, also won the Best Actor award making it the first year that African Americans won both the best actor and actress Oscars.
2005 - Condoleezza Rice became the first black female U.S. Secretary of State.
2008 - Barack Obama became the first black president of the United States.
2014 - Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old was shot and killed in Ferguson by Darren Wilson. A grand jury decision not to indict Wilson was announced which led to protests in Ferguson and cities across the US including Chicago, LA, NYC and Boston.
The protests continued to spread throughout the country after a Staten Island grand jury decided in December not to indict Daniel Pantaleo, the police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner. Garner died after being placed in a chokehold by Pantaleo in July.
2016 - Simone Biles became the first African American (and women) to bring home four Olympic gold medals in women’s gymnastics at a single game (as well as a bronze at the 2016 Rio Olympics).
Simone Manuel was also the first African American woman to win an individual event in Olympic swimming.
We also felt it appropriate to share each of the key dates that have happened during 2020 in the lead up and after effects of the #BLM so far.
Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed 25 year old African American man was fatally shot while out jogging. Ahmaude was out jogging in Glynn Country, Georgia when he was pursued and confronted by two white residents, a farther and son who were armed and driving a pick up tuck.
Louisville police officers knocked down the apartment door of 26 year old African American Breonna Taylor, they were serving a no-knock search warrant for drug suspicions. Police fired several shots during the encounter which led to her death.
George Floyd is killed by Minneapolis Police. A video circulates showing the office kneeling on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes while Floyd pleased for his life, repeating "I can't breathe".
Protests begin, demanding that the four offices involved are held accountable. The four offices involved are later fired.
Protests spread across the US.
The National Guard is deployed to Minneapolis and a state of emergency is declared by Minneapolis Mayor, Jacob Frey. Protesters overrun a police precinct in Minneapolis, the building is set on fire as the demand grows for charges to be brought against the four officers involved in Floyd's death.
As protests grow one officer, Chauvin is charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Secret Service agents rush Donald Trump to a White House bunker as hundreds of protesters gather outside the presidents residence.
The US sees some of the largest protests yet with demands for the other three officers involved in Floyd's death to be arrested and charged.
Anti-racism solidarity protests are held around the world including the UK, New Zeland, Canada and Brazil.
Protests continue, fears over the coronavirus increase. Thousands take to the streets.
The three other officers involved in Floyd's death are charged - Each with aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and manslaughter. Chauvin, already jailed on charges of third-degree murder and manslaughter is charged with second-degree murder.
Vigils are held for Breonna Taylor, who would of celebrated her 27th birthday. Calls for the Louisville officers involved in her death increase for them to be fired.
Mass protests continue for a second weekend across the US. Tens of thousands rallied in Washington, DC, NYC and elsewhere.
Call to defund police departments across the US grow. Confederate and other statues are the focus of protests. The Minneapolis City Council vote to "disband its police department" to shift funding to social programmes in communities of colour.
Funeral service for George Floyd. The funeral is broadcasted live in part of celebration of Floyd's life and in part a call to action to continue demand to end police brutality.
From the two separate timelines it can be extremely hard to feel positive about ending police brutality forever. From Emmett Till in 1955, Rodney King in 1992 to George Floyd, the issue is extremely clear. People no matter what their race or if police brutality directly affects them are now listening and acting on these horrendous acts and have realised not being a racist person is no longer enough in the grand scheme of things. We all need to ensure our voices are heard and that we do not accept these awful acts carried out. The time is now!
Please be sure to check out the #BLM Card to find out how you can best approach supporting - https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/
No matter your age, location, financial circumstances you can help! #BLM ✊🏾