WAYNE — The Wayne State College President’s Council on Diversity and the Multicultural Center will present “The Harlem Renaissance and the Invention of Modern Black Culture in the 1920s.”
The event with Dr. Andy Haslit, Dr. Joseph Weixelman and Dr. Becky Zavada will take place from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 17, in Connell Hall, Room 131. There is no admission charge. The public is welcomed.
The Harlem Renaissance was a period of extraordinary artistic creativity in the black community. From music to philosophy and from literature to painting, the movement witnessed outstanding examples of talent showcasing black culture.
As a Harvard-trained historian, Carter G. Woodson hoped to raise awareness of African Americans’ contributions to civilization. He and the organization he founded, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), conceived and announced Negro History Week in 1925.
The event was first celebrated during a week in February 1926 that encompassed birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The response was overwhelming.
By 1950, Negro History Week had become a central part of African American life and substantial progress had been made in bringing more Americans to appreciate the celebration. At mid–century, mayors of cities nationwide issued proclamations noting Negro History Week.
The Black Awakening of the 1960s expanded the consciousness of African Americans about the importance of black history, and the Civil Rights movement focused Americans of all color on the subject of the contributions of African Americans to history and culture.
The celebration was expanded to a month in 1976, the nation’s bicentennial. President Gerald R. Ford urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
Fifty years after the first celebration, the association unveiled the first African American History Month. By this time, the entire nation recognized the importance of black history in the drama of the American story.
Since then each American president has issued African American History Month proclamations. And the association — now the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) — continues to promote the study of black history all year.