Black History Month is here! Although I try to share black history throughout the year, I don’t mind going even harder during this month as people have been conditioned to believe that this is the only time to study about black history. Commonly a misconception, I’ve chosen to run with it and make my contribution to this month awesome! What I will not do is stick to the commonly talked about black history leaders that primary schools tend to focus on because it’s easier than expanding the curriculum to include many other blacks who didn’t just focus on eradicating racism. I want people to know we are more than slavery and discrimination. We are strong. We are resilient. We are black. When we think of transforming ourselves for the better, I believe we need to think of ourselves as queens. We often settle for mediocrity when we have so much power. Our young girls should see that they have the power to be greater than their circumstances because of the many black women who blazed the path before them. These women are inspiring to me and I hope that they help inspire you too!
Black History Month: Black Women and their extraordinary talents
Born in 1922, Dorothy Dandridge was an amazing actress and singer who was known as one of the most beautiful women of her time. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Ms. Dandridge started out in showbiz in a group with her sister Vivian and friend Etta, known as “The Dandridge Sisters”. After a successful run, the ladies split up, but Ms. Dandridge still had the desire to succeed in the entertainment industry. Ms. Dandridge performed in night clubs around the country until she had her big break which would change her life and our history forever. Carmen Jones, was a huge success and led to an Academy Award nomination for best actress. Amidst the many racial hurdles and personal demons that she faced, Ms. Dandridge continued to perform and bring delight to her many fans until her tragic death in 1965.
Born Freda Josephine McDonald in 1906, Josephine Baker was not going to allow racism and her surroundings to stop her from being great. At the age of 13, Ms. Baker began working in in jazz clubs and eventually made her way to the Broadway stage. She later moved to Paris where she was an immediate sensation. Known for her scantily clad performances, Ms. Baker captivated the audiences with her emotion and uninhibited dance. Although she was very successful in Europe, she was met with much disdain and racism upon her return to the United States. She became very active in civil rights and refused to perform in any clubs where the audience wasn’t racially mixed. In 1975, after years of struggles, Ms. Baker staged comeback performances at Carnegie Hall and in Paris. After receiving glowing reviews from the critics, Josephine Baker died 2 days later. Because of her tireless civil rights efforts, the NAACP named May 20, national Josephine Baker day.
A celebrated contralto singer, Marian Anderson was born in 1897 to John Anderson and Annie Rucker. Unable to afford high school or singing lessons, Ms. Anderson practiced singing any time she could. Initially turned away from an all-white music school due to her skin color, Ms. Anderson was supported by her community who saved money to hire a music teacher to train her. At the insistence of her music teacher, Ms. Anderson entered a concert sponsored by the New York Philharmonic. Placing first place out of 300 people, Ms. Anderson was on her way to an amazing musical journey. Known for her three-octave range, Ms. Anderson was the first black performer at the Metropolitan Opera. Ms. Anderson lived to the ripe age of 93 and was interred in her hometown of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1993.
These are just short descriptions that do not truly capture all the triumphs and tribulations these women faced. If you want to learn more about these women I have a few links below that you can use as your starting point. Take the time to learn more about black history and not just the one that is on your T.V. screen.