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ORIGINS OF STEEL (Feb 1 - Feb 7)
Posted 2/1/2011

This week back in the day in the Burgh
& beyond

By J. Pharoah Doss

George Orwell wrote in his novel 1984, “…if all records told the same tale, then the lie passed into history becomes truth. Who controls the past controls the future, and who controls the present controls the past.”

Dr. Carter G. Woodson is considered the Father of Black History. In 1912 he became the second African American following W.E.B. Dubois to a receive a doctorate from Harvard University. Dr. Woodson taught at various public school and eventually joined the Howard University faculty. He was a columnist for Marcus Garvey’s newspaper Negro World, and he authored academic works such as The Mis-Education of The Negro. In 1926 he pioneered Negro History Week. He chose the second week of February for the historic celebration to honor the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Dr. Woodson dedicated his life to free Black history from the grip of the present forces that presided over the course of study in America that found no merit in the past achievements of other non European cultures. Dr. Woodson believed in the importance of a people having an awareness and knowledge of their contributions to humanity. Since 1976 the month of February has been devoted to the cultural contributions of the African diaspora in the United States and Canada.


On February 5, 2009 the Pittsburgh Public Schools launched their new African American history course at Heinz History center. The gathering announced three schools: Pittsburgh’s Lincoln K-8, Pittsburgh’s Montessori Pre-K-8, and Pittsburgh’s Sunnyside K-8 were selected to participate in the culturally responsive arts and education program. The program was supported by grants from the Heinz Endowments.

The new course debuted a week prior at Oliver High School. Ken Smith, an Oliver instructor, taught a mini lesson from the new course at the Heinz History Center. Ken Smith stated he didn’t want students to take history he wanted them doing history. Mr. Smith expects students to develop their own insights from political cartoons, photos, manuscripts, music, and oral histories. The program introduced students to broader topics such as nationalism, feminism, and Pan-Africanism. The district also selected twenty artist to work with the public schools to infuse art in subjects such as math, reading, science, and social studies. The new course also included many lesser know history figures like Jim Haskins. Mr. Haskins was a professor and awarding winning author. He wrote over one hundred books for children and adults. His book Black Music in America won the 1988 Carter G. Woodson Book Award of the Nation Council for Social studies.

The legacy of Carter G. Woodson is forged in steel in Pittsburgh.


February 1, 1960: The Greensboro Sit-In at a Woolworth’s in Greensboro, North Carolina, launched a wave of anti-segregation sit-ins across the South and opened a national awareness of the depth of segregation in the nation. Within weeks, sit-in campaigns had begun in nearly a dozen cities, primarily targeting Woolworth''''''''s and other stores of other national chains.

February 1, 1978: Harriet Tubman became the first black woman honored on a US postage stamp.

February 2, 1820: Eight six African American immigrants sponsored by the Colonization Society of America started a state in Liberia.

February 3, 1790: Pennsylvania Abolition Society petitioned congress to abolish slavery.

February 7, 1964: Cassius Clay becomes a Black Muslim
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