11:07 AM / Saturday April 13, 2024

6 Feb 2010

Smooth Traveler: A lion in winter

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February 6, 2010 Category: Travel Posted by:

By Renée S. Gordon



“Until the lion learns to write, tales of hunting will always be told by the hunter.”

–African Proverb


Carter Godwin Woodson was born in Virginia in 1875, the son of former slaves. Poverty drove him to find work in the coal mines of Kentucky until 1895, at which time he began his first formal education. He graduated from high school two years later and received a degree from Berea College two years after that. He went on to become the second African American to earn a PhD from Harvard in 1912.


Deemed the “Father of Negro History,” Dr. Woodson dedicated his life to the study, preservation and promulgation of the history of people of African descent throughout the world. He created The Association for the Study of Negro Life and History and The Associated Publishers in 1915. The institutions were founded to facilitate scholarship and to publish works on black culture and history. In 1916, Woodson began editing the legendary, quarterly “Journal of Negro History,” the most significant publication of its type. The Association’s name was changed to The Association for the Study of African-American Life and History and the Journal was renamed the “The Journal of Negro History” in 2002.


While championing the cause of adding “Negro” history to curriculums throughout the country, he served at Howard University as both dean of the College of Liberal Arts and leader of the graduate faculty until 1920. From 1920-22, he was a dean at West Virginia State College.


Dr. Woodson established Black History Week in 1926 to commemorate the contributions made by African Americans.


Various reasons have been given for his selection of the month of February, none having to do with its length. We know it was considered a month filled with African American landmark events. Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. DuBois and Abraham Lincoln were born in February, the 15th Amendment was passed on February 3, 1870 and the NAACP was founded on February 12, 1909. One week has grown into a month and the annual theme continues to be selected by the Association


The National Park Service has owned Carter G. Woodson’s home, located at 1538 9th Street, NW in Washington, DC, since 2005. Woodson lived and worked there from 1922 until his death on April 3, 1950. He is buried in Lincoln Cemetery in Suitland, Maryland.


Since its inception, the annual commemoration of African American history has been the subject of serious and continual debate. Originally it was designed to fill a void left by educational institutions and American scholarship. Currently, many people are of the opinion that our history has been infused into that of the larger culture and the monthlong celebration is no longer necessary. No matter what your opinion, February is filled with opportunities to learn and experience African American history at its best. The activities in our area are numerous and I have selected a few to highlight that are family-oriented and really should not be missed.


On Saturday, February 6th, the 18th Annual African American Children’s Book Fair will take place from 1:00-3:00 PM. Award winning and best-selling authors and illustrators, including Walter D. Myers, E. B. Lewis, Tonya Bolden and author of the Cheetah Girls, Deborah Gregory, will be present. The fair will feature games, book giveaways, and the NBC10 Reading Room, in which children have a chance to meet an author and receive a free book. The books are for preschoolers through young adult. The free event will be held in the gymnasium of Community College of Philadelphia, 17th and Spring Garden Sts. Additional information is available at 215-878-BOOK.


The PA Convention Center, 12th and Arch Sts., will house the 6th Annual Black History Showcase on February 13th and 14th from 11:00 AM- 7:00 PM. The showcase will feature more than 20 mini-galleries on areas of Black history with artifacts, information and living legends. A new addition will be a special focus on “Blacks in Sports”, from the Negro Leagues to the Harlem Globetrotters. The Philadelphia Chapters of the Buffalo Soldiers and Tuskeegee Airmen will be highlighted. Information is available at


Philadelphia’s African American Museum has been educating us daily since 1976. And this is still a perfect time to check out the current major exhibit, “Audacious Freedom: African Americans in Philadelphia 1776-1876.” The bi-level display uses state-of-the-art technology to relate authentic stories of real Philadelphians. 701 Arch Street.


For a complete schedule of events go to

Until February 28th, visitors to the Academy of Natural Sciences, 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, can step into the world of renowned scientist George Washington Carver. Carver, the child of slaves, was born in Missouri in 1864.


While he was still a baby, his mother and older sister were kidnapped by slavecatchers and his owners, Moses and Susan, raised him. His first major was art but he changed to agriculture because he wanted to find was of alleviating the poverty of the rural farmers and sharecroppers. Booker T. Washington invited him to Tuskegee to head the Agriculture Department and for the remainder of his life that was his home.


The Academy’s exhibit is comprised of more than 150 artifacts, interactive displays and videos that interpret his life and the more than 400 products he developed from peanuts, pecans and sweet potatoes. Entrance is free with museum admission.


Philadelphia Contralto Marion Anderson would be 113 years old this year and the community is invited to help celebrate the event at the Marian Anderson Historical Society. The 10th Annual Open House will be held on Saturday, February 27th from 1:00 – 5:00 PM. There will be live performances and the event is free. 762 S. Marian Anderson Way.


The University of Pennsylvania Museum has been hosting a celebration of African cultures for twenty-one years and no one does it better. This year it will be held on Saturday, February 20th from 11:00 AM – 4 :00 PM and is included in museum admission. Scheduled highlights include a tour of the African Gallery, live African animals, Mask Making, storytelling by Momma Sandi, a Rhythm and Blues/Soul Line Dancing class with Kenny J., the Women’s Sekere Ensemble, Rashida Watson demonstrating “The Meaning of Beads,” and a truly grand finale with Kala JoJo and Friends performing “Drum Music with Words from the Storyvine.” Vai Capoeira’s demonstration of the art of capoeira is a special treat. African slaves in Brazil created capoeira, a form of martial arts skillfully blended into dance moves.


For many the must-see of the day will be Chosen Dance Company’s, Hip-Hop dance performance led by master teacher Clyde Evans, Jr. The emphasis will be on, not only the movements, but the strong link between hip-hop and West African dance. The troupe will be augmented by Jon Bulack from MTV’s “America’s Best Dance Crew.


There will be a mini-African marketplace for the purchase of heritage related items and the Museum Café will be serving traditional African cuisine.


I suggest that you arrive early and stay late. A schedule and all pertinent information is available on the website. 3260 South Street. (215) 898-4000.


February offers wonderful opportunities to learn more about the African American experience and its impact on that of the United States and the world. In addition to these activities, you can enhance your roar by reading books by J. A. Rogers, Ira Berlin, Ivan Van Sertima, Julius Lester and Herbert Aptheker. This is your opportunity to become a lion.


I wish you smooth and spirited travels!

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