Temple University Black Heritage Month 2009
Planting the Seeds and Harvesting the Rewards
Past, Present and Future...
The legacy of celebrating Black History was initiated by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, a former scholar and ex-slave. During the late 1920s, he instituted the first formal celebration of Black contributions to society with the Negro History and Literature Week. However after Dr. Woodson’s death in 1950, it was recognized as Negro History Week. Nevertheless, as the contributions of those descendants of the African Diaspora grew so did the desire and the need for a more formal outlet of expression that would represent the works of such a great community. Thus after several social and political movements, in 1976 the former Negro History Week was extended to a month-long celebration known as Black History Month.
In the year 2009, we have reached new heights on various platforms, including educational reform, political history and social innovation. Additionally, we as a “new” generation have grown to be scholars of progress which has allowed us to make our own imprint on this legacy which we call Black Heritage. We welcome this term not because we seek to do away with the history of our forefathers but we challenge our community to recognize that we are not a people of past accomplishments and struggles but an inclusive group that welcomes all individual that are descendants of the African Diaspora. Through “heritage” we seek to bring together those that have contributed to the history and to those that are making history. Through “heritage” we seek to recognize those from the Caribbean, Latin America and the Motherland itself along with many more. Through “heritage” we seek to begin a movement of inclusiveness that allows all individuals and communities that have derived from the African Diaspora to take part in this tradition of celebrating who they are and where they came from. Our goal through Black “Heritage” Month is to start a trend of togetherness within a community that has so much to be grateful for and has so much work to do and thus being unified is essential in order for us to survive and be successful.
This notion helps us look to the future. A future which shines so bright we have no choice but to look forward to its rewards. Our theme of “Planting the Seeds and Harvesting the Rewards” speaks to the past, incorporates the present and welcomes the future. It also recognizes the works of those ancestors that plowed the pathways of our today so that they could plant the seeds of our tomorrow. Yet, while our theme lets the contributions of our ancestors resonate within us it also charges us with duty of being able to manage that which has been given. As a future generation we have been given the banner of struggle, sacrifice and service which can never trail the ground. We have been given the assignment of being “our brother’s keeper” and serving as true humanitarians within our communities.
Thus, it is not enough to receive the reward but the reward must be managed so that the work involved in planting hasn’t been done in vain. Those of us that are reaping the rewards must go into the community as role models planting new seeds for those that come after us so that they too know how to manage the rewards we leave for them. With our heritage and rewards we must continue the traditions of our history while setting new heights for our future. We must recognize that this month can not contain our community’s heritage or history for it’s is far too great and it is something that must be celebrated 365-days a year. However, for the moment, we will admire it through service and commitment. Through Black Heritage Month, we at Temple University challenge this community to not only celebrate the past and progress the present but also to be active in the future so that we can continue to reap that which was planted for us.