Black history speaker encourages students to get education
Published 9:38 am Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Brock Washington, the guest speaker at a Black History Month event held last week at Bainbridge Middle School, encouraged students to learn more about lesser-known figures whose accomplishments were still noteworthy.
Washington remarked that Dr. Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950) is considered the father of black history. It was Woodson, who in 1926, pioneered the celebration of “Negro History Week,” as it was then called, during the second week of February, to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglass. The week was later expanded to become Black History Month. Woodson, who was the second African-American to graduate from Harvard University, devoted his life to gathering articles and writings about African-American history and helping publish some of them.
Lincoln was the 16th president of the United States and the signer of the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed Southern slaves.
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Douglass (1818-1895) was a social reformer, speaker, writer and statesman. After escaping from slavery, he became a leader of the movement to abolish slavery.
Other historical figures cited by Washington were black inventor and engineer Elijah McCoy; Harriet Tubman, who escaped from slavery and rescued more than 70 other slaves using the Underground Railroad; agricultural pioneer George Washington Carver; black scientist, surveyor, author and farmer Benjamin Banneker; prominent early 1900s black leader and educator Booker T. Washington; Ida B. Wells, a journalist, advocate for civil rights and women’s rights and co-founder of the NAACP.
“These are people who have given their lives and made a path for us to follow,” Washington told the middle school students in the audience. “Now it’s your turn. Prepare yourself for the challenge of getting a quality education … history is waiting to be written with your contributions.”
Washington is a deacon and Sunday school teacher at Union M.B. Church in West Bainbridge. He is also a retired businessman and U.S. Armed Forces veteran.
The Black History event also featured songs, reflections and praise dancing by BMS students. Afterwards, students, staff and guests enjoyed a “soul food feast” in honor of Black History Month.