Black History Month

At Poder NC Action, not only are we pro-Black, but we also acknowledge and celebrate Afro-Latinx who identify as Black. Furthermore, so many of the political wins and great strides in building people power in communities have come from our Black hermanxs. We also acknowledge that Black history IS American history, and we should honor it every day.

Black History Month originated in 1915 with Carter G. Woodson, as a way of remembering the achievements of people in Black history. Since 1976, it has been observed as a month long commemoration during the month of February. Learn more about Black History Month.

Each day we'll be sharing snippets from Black History on
Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and we'll continue adding resources to this page throughout February. Keep checking back and be sure to follow us on our socials!

 

HENRIETTA LACKS

(1920-1951)

Meet Henrietta Lacks, an African American woman from Roanoke, Virginia whose cells were used unbeknownst to her by Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1951 during the treatment of her cancer. At the time, it was one of the only prominent hospitals serving African American patients, and even then, it was segregated. Ms. Lacks became the first known person who was found to have their human cell line with the ability to reproduce indefinitely. Her cells, known as HeLa cells for Henrietta Lacks, remain a remarkably durable line of cells used in research around the world. Her story and impact on medical science, as that of many African Americans, Latinxs, and Indigenous communities, were nearly erased and have brought to the forefront the need for creating bioethical standards of practice to ensure that nothing is done to a patient without their consent. Learn more.

 
 

ANGELA DAVIS

(B. 1944)

Angela Yvonne Davis—a symbol of the struggle for Black liberation, anticapitalism and feminism since the 1970s—said, "If it were possible to have a peaceful revolution, and when I say revolution, I'm talking about a complete and total change in the entire fabric of the society, a change in the distribution of the wealth...but we also have to revamp the educational system, we have to revamp all the political institutions."

 

What are your thoughts on how true change happens in our society? Learn more.

 

GASPAR YANGA

(1545 - ?)

Meet Gaspar Yanga, known to be one of the first Black liberators in the Americas. Yanga was born in West Africa and brought over to Mexico as an enslaved person. He led a successful slave revolt with a group of followers who escaped to a Mountainous region near Veracruz, Mexico. The area that Yanga and his group settled in is known as Pico de Orizaba, in the Olmec region. The settlement is known as a maroon colony: a community of runaway slaves and indigenous people. Maroon colonies were common throughout the Americas and the Caribbean.

 

We’ll leave you with this bonus fun fact: the Olmecs were of African origins and were one of the first civilizations in Mesoamerica, before the Aztecs and Mayans inhabited the region. Learn more.

 

James Baldwin

(1924-1987)

James Baldwin had said, “I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.”

In this 1969 interview on The Dick Cavett Show, Baldwin has an open discussion about racial prejudice, civil rights activism and policing. He responds to the notion of American progress, and he points out that people overlook that he doesn't want to be handed anything. He simply wants the freedom to be able to do it himself, and that perhaps he has a different sense of life. 
Learn more.

 

Claudette Colvin

(b. 1939)

Meet Claudette Colvin who, at the age of 15, refused to move to the back of the bus in order to give her seat to a white person. Her bravery occurred just nine months before Rosa Parks attempted the same in Montgomery, Alabama. The truth is, the Civil Rights Movement did not rally around Claudette Colvin and her efforts because she was not seen as an ideal person. At the time of her refusal to give up her seat on the bus, Colvin was an unmarried, pregnant teenager. Meanwhile, Rosa Parks was made the face of the bus boycott because she was thought to have a better chance of rallying support.

 

Claudette Colvin is still alive today, which demonstrates that many people who were active in their fight during the Civil Rights Movement are still alive today; their lives and stories are not ancient history. Learn more.

 

Celia Cruz

(1925-2003)

In this selected YouTube interview, Celia Cruz who is from Cuba, talks about marriage, vanity, and social life. Though she has been gone for [almost 20] years, Celia is beloved in every corner of the globe. Poignantly, in a 1997 interview, she commented, “I have fulfilled my father’s wish to be a teacher as, through my music, I teach generations of people about my culture and the happiness that is found in just living life.

 

As a performer, I want people to feel their hearts sing and their spirits soar.” Learn more.

 

VICENTE GUERRERO

(1782-1831)

Meet Vicente Guerrero, an Afro-Mexican revolutionary general during the Mexican War of Independence. He was elected the second president of Mexico in 1829. As president, Guerrero went on to champion the cause not only of the racially oppressed, but also of the economically oppressed. Guerrero formally abolished slavery on September 16, 1829. However, shortly after that success, Vicente Guerrero was betrayed and then executed by a group known as reactionaries.

Guerrero’s legacy lives on as he stood on a platform of civil rights for all people, especially Afro-Mexicans. As head of the “People’s Party,” Guerrero called for public schools, land title reforms, and other programs of a liberal nature. General Vicente Guerrero is remembered and revered by proud Mexicans as the “greatest man of color.” Learn more.

 

MIGUEL ALGARIN

(1941-2020)

Miguel Algarín Jr. was a Puerto Rican poet, writer, co-founder of the Nuyorican Poets Café, and a Rutgers University professor of English. Algarín inspired generations of Latinx and Black poets and artists. This video is a performance of his poem "Not Tonight but Tomorrow (1978)" from Survival Supervivencia.

""Not tonight but tomorrow
will I throw my feelings into
New York streets to stew
in the violence and despair
of our planet—
Not tonight but tomorrow
will the Earth turn green again."

Learn more. | Read the poem.

 

marsha p. johnson

(1945-1992)

Marsha P. Johnson was a gay rights activist and professional drag queen, survivor, and performer. Johnson played a pivotal role in the Stonewall riots of 1969 and co-founding the Gay Liberation Front. The Marsha P. Johnson Institute was founded in memory of the activist with the purpose of protecting and defending the lives of Black transgender people. In 1992, Marsha was tragically murdered at the age of 46; although the NYPD ruled her death to be caused by suicide, activists and supporters recognized it to be a hate crime. In the U.S there remains high rates of violence towards transgender people—91% of the targeted people being Black women, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
 

Activists such as Marsha P. Johnson have dedicated their lives to advocating for the safety and justice of transgender people. The fight does not stop until all transgender and gender non-conforming individuals are safe, protected, and valued. Marsha is remembered as an icon and a catalyzing force behind the LGBTQ+ movement. Learn more.

 

Nina SImone

(1933-2003)

Nina Simone had said, "An artist's duty, as far as I'm concerned, is to reflect the times," and we could not agree more. Born as Eunice Kathleen Waymon in Tryon, North Carolina, she was known professionally as Nina Simone, the "high priestess of soul." An American singer, songwriter, musical arranger, and civil rights activist, her music spanned a broad range of styles, including classical, jazz, folk, R&B, gospel, and pop. Nina referred to her music as Black Classical Music.

She was the "consummate musical storyteller, a griot as she would come to learn, who used her remarkable talent to create a legacy of liberation." Learn more on her official website.

 

Esteban Hotesse

(1919-1945)

Esteban Hotesse was an Afro-Dominican Air Force lieutenant and a member of the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II. Born on February 11, 1919, in the town of Moca, Dominican Republic, Hotesse was one of the few people born in a Spanish-speaking nation to serve the United States during World War II. Along with his mother and younger sister, Hotesse left the Caribbean island for New York, completing their journey by passing through Ellis Island. Hotesse was assigned to the 619th Bombardier Squadron.

 

In 1944, the 477th Bombardier Group M was reformed in order to work aboard B-25 bombers, following pressure by prominent civil leaders to incorporate African Americans into more crucial roles in the Army Air Corps. Hotesse was only twenty-six years old when he died in a plane crash.

Learn more.

Stay tuned for more!

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poder NC Action

PO Box 445 

Raleigh, North Carolina 27602

info@podernc.org

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