As most of you probably know, February is Black History Month but I'll bet there's a few people associated with Black History that you don't know.
Claudette Colvin was 15 years old in 1955 and 9 months before Rosa Parks made a name for herself Claudette refused to give up her seat on the bus when asked. However, the NAACP felt that Rosa Parks, a respectable middle class adult, would better represent the movement and so became the face of resistance. Imagine being 15 years old and black in Montgomery Alabama in 1955 and having the courage to say no.
Another interesting person is a man called Onesimus (sorry no pic), who was likely born in Africa in the late 17th Century and arrived in Boston as a gift to Puritan Minister Cotton Mather from his congregation. At some point, Onesimus told Mather about an old tradition of extracting material from an infected person and then scratching it onto the skin of a healthy person in order to make them immune. During the smallpox epidemic of 1721 Mather convinced Dr. Zabdiel Boylston to try Onesimus' method and of those who contracted smallpox, only 2% of the inoculated people died vs 15% of the non-inoculated.
Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950) was an author, journalist and the founder of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, and The Journal of Negro History. In February of 1926 he launched the celebration of "Negro History Week" which was the precurser to Black History Month. Woodson believed that education and increasing social and professional
contacts among blacks and whites could reduce racism and he promoted the
organized study of African-American history partly for that purpose.
How many of these people did you know? I'll admit, I knew none until I looked up Black History. I purposely chose the ones I didn't know. I thought it was interesting that Onesimus knew all about inoculation from tradition. It was common knowledge among his people. I should also mention that Cotton Mather did eventually free him, though not without conditions.
In other news, I'm making one last pass through my manuscript before sending it off to readers, and there are now 42 days left til spring...