Feb. 2021 — By: Curmari Lewis, Personal Trainer/Creator
In honor of Black History Month I want to acknowledge the phenomenal contributions Black Americans accomplished throughout Americas history. Black History month acknowledges prominent figures such as Madam C.J Walker (First Women in the U.S to become a self- made millionaire), Shirley Chisholm (First African American women elected to the U.S House of Representatives), Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler (First African American to earn a Medical degree), Otis Boykin (Invented 28 electronic devices, including his most famous an improved electrical resistor used in pace makers), and many more will be discussed in this blog. In the mist of civil unrest black life has progressed in extraordinary ways. Throughout this blog, you will read short passages on Black historic figures from the past to now. My goal is to inform readers on the contributions Black Americans have done and continue to do in America. At the end of this blog you will find resources to Black businesses and organizations you can start supporting if you are not already. Lets Get Started:
Did you know- The celebration of Black History Month originally began as “Negro History Week” created in 1926 by Carter G. Woodson, a noted Black historian, scholar, educator, and publisher. It took 50 years (1976) for the week to turn into a month long celebration. The reason the month of February was chosen to coincide with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.
On February 12, 2019 the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People or NAACP marked its 110th anniversary. A little background on NAACP it was established in New York City February 1909 by White and Black activist, in response to the ongoing violence against African Americans around the country. The founding African American members included W.E.B DuBois, Ida Wells- Barnett, Archibald Grimke and Mary Church Terrell. The NAACP played a vital role in the civil rights movement in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Some incredible work that was accomplished most of us are taught in grade school is Brown v. Board of Education (outlawed segregation in public schools). Today, the NAACP primary focus is on inequality in jobs, education, health care, and the criminal justice system, as well as protecting voting rights. As of 2021, the NAACP has more than 2,200 branches and more than half a million members worldwide.
As an African American female personal trainer it is extremely encouraging and enlightening to learn about black leaders who created and invented key attributes in society here are some common fitness contributors. A eminent scientist George Washington Carver was born ensalved and went to become one of the most noble scientist and inventors of his time. He also was a teacher at the Tusekgee institute. Carver made over 100 products using one major crop. A peanut including dyes, plastics and gasoline. First Black Baseball Player Jackie Robison, joined the Brooklyn Dodgers and led the league in stolen bases naming him Rookie of the year. First Black Billionaires Oprah Winfrey, and Micheal Jordan. In 2001 Robert Johnson became the first African American billionaire when he sold the cable station he founded (BET) Black Entertainment Television. First Black President of the United States Barack Obama became the 1st in 2008. His presidency changes so much in the black community. Even his wife the First Black First Lady Michelle Obama established a Healthy living campaign to counter obesity in adults and children. As of recent Jennifer King became the first Black women to become a full-time coach in the National Football League (NFL). These few individuals are trailblazers in the black community and personally have educated me on how to overcome adversity and perseverance. Without taking much more of your time to close, here are a few reasons why Black movements are still prominent today.
- Criminal Justice System– After slavery was abolished in 1865, southern states where more than 90 percent of black Americans lived. The criminal justice system focused on racial control such as segregation, black codes, and Jim Crow laws. Fun fact “Black Codes” led to the imprisonment of unprecedented numbers of black men, women, and children forcing black Americans to return to slavery like conditions through labor and convict leasing systems that lasted well into the 20th century. As of now, the United States has the worlds highest incarceration rate. According to Eji.org, 2.3 million Americans are in prison. Mostly fueled by the “War on Drugs” and “Tough on Crime” mandatory sentencing polices. This has been concerning in the Black community historically and mass incarceration has a clear racial impact. Over 70 percent of American prisoners are non- white, and the average American has a 1 in 20 chance of being imprisoned at some point in his life, but the rate is much higher in latino men (1 in 6) and African American men (more than 1 in 3) than for white men (1 in 23), according to Eji.org. The justice system in most recent years has encountered more protest and attention because of the disparities the Black and Brown community face. 1 in 9 Black men under the age 25 live under some form of restrained liberty such as prison, jail, probation, or parole. This is a main reason Black Lives Matter, change organizations, and Big corporations such as the NBA, NFL, Amazon, etc are advocating for equality in the justice system and policing.
- Jobs & Education– According to The American Prospect, Slave owners had an economic incentive to exploit the multifaceted talents of blacks in the craft shop as well as in the kitchen and field and throughout the late nineteenth century and well into the twentieth blacks as a group were barred from machine work within the industrial sector. In this period of Black history Black men were the first to get fired and the last to get hired. During the 1900s the black unemployment rate was at 14 percent. Historically individuals who are black have a difficult time obtaining a good paying job. This is another reason you see organizations advocating for equal opportunity and polices protecting black workers. Some Famous Black educators that changed academia is Mae C. Jemison, the first black women to become an astronaut and going into space in 1992. Daniel Hale Williams, founded the first interracial hospital in America in 1891, and the hospital served as the first school for black nurses in the country. Dorothy Lavinia Brown, the first African American female surgeon in the south 1954, and later the first black women on the Tennessee Legislature. Charles Henry Turner, First African American to earn a Ph.D in the U.S and became the first person to prove insects can hear different pithes. Lastly, I want to acknowledge Booker T. Washington probably one of the most famous educators ever! Washington was famous for teaching Black Americans how to help themselves through education and hard work.
Social Organizations & Black Businesses to Support
As change continues to grow for the black community these past and future black leaders are the ones that will create the happiness, freedom, and social justice and equality. Before sharing black resources in the United States, I hope you enjoyed this read as much as I enjoyed researching these phenomenal Black men and women innovators shared. To my fellow black businesses and people reading Thank you for simply being you and thriving at all that you do. As Booker T Washington advocated, us being successful in this world will take hard work. I encourage you all to continue pursuing your dreams and goals expanding black knowledge, beauty and culture. For Fitness questions & Personal Training inquires Contact me directly 877- 242- 7286
- African American Leadership Forum – (AALF) is comprised of over 1,500 Black Leaders.
- African American Roundtable – (AART) seeks the full inclusion of black lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, and transgender people in communities of faith etc
- Association for the Student of African American Life and History – established in 1915 by Dr. Carter G. Woodson.
- Black Girls Code- Is devoted to showing the world that black girls can code, and do so much more.
- Black Lives Matter – Global network that is chapter – based, member- led organization whose mission is to build local power and to intervene in violence inflicted on black communities by state and vigilantes
6. Black Male Voter Project -The goal of the Black Male Voter Project is simple. We are building a movement that encourages black men to regularly and actively engage in the voting and electoral process. Since the foundation of the United States, black men and women have faced barrier after barrier to achieving voting equality.
7. Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity -BOLD (Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity) is a national training intermediary focused on transforming the practice of Black organizers in the US to increase their alignment, impact and sustainability to win progressive change. BOLD carries out its mission through training programs, coaching and technical assistance for BOLD alumni and partners.
8. Black PAC– is an independent, Black-led organization that uses the power of year-round political engagement and elections to change our economic, justice, and political systems. Since its founding in 2016, BlackPAC has helped galvanize Black voters to the polls to elect Governors, Lt. Governors, Attorney Generals, US Senators, and State Legislators.
9. Black Women for Wellness – Black Women for Wellness believes in the strength and wisdom of our community and allies.
10. Black Women’s Blueprint -Black Women’s Blueprint, Inc. is a civil and human rights organization of women and men. Our purpose is to take action to secure social, political and economic equality in American society now.
11. Center for Black Equity – The Center for Black Equity (CBE) is an institution committed to supporting leaders, institutions and programs for health, economic and social equity for LGBT people of African descent. CBE seeks to promote a multinational LGBT network dedicated to improving health and wellness opportunities, economic empowerment, and equal rights while promoting individual and collective work, responsibility, and self-determination.
12. NAACP – The mission of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is to secure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights in order to eliminate race-based discrimination and ensure the health and well-being of all persons.