Category MODERN AMERICAN CULTURE

Women’s History Month

is one of the outcomes of a county­wide movement in Sonoma County, California, in the 1970s that brought a focus on wom­en into school curricula as well as into the general public’s consciousness. In 1978, the Educational Task Force of the Sonoma County (California) Commission on the Status of Women initiated a “Women’s History Week.” The week of March 8 was chosen since March 8 is International Women’s Day. As word of the move­ment spread, State Departments of Education across the U. S. initiated similar changes to their curricula, and encouraged celebrations of women’s history as a means of achieving equity in classrooms. In 1987 the National Women’s History Project petitioned the Unit­ed States Congress to recognize the whole month of March as National Women’s History Month. Since then, every year the House of Representatives and the United States Senate approve the designation.

March is celebrated with special programs and activities in schools, workplaces, and communities. Besides recognizing women’s achievements in such areas as science, math, politics, arts, and athletics, a common topic in school curricula is the women’s suf­frage movement in the United States. Before 1920, women did not have the right to vote under the con­stitution. In the decade between 1910 and 1920, women organized and were involved in political dem­onstrations and marches across the United States. Though the vote was brought to the congress several times, it failed to pass. Finally in 1919, after years of picketing, petitioning, and protesting, the vote passed, resulting in the passage of the Nineteenth Amend­ment to the U. S. Constitution on August 26, 1920. In

November 1920, women voted for the first time in a national election.

Glossary

outcome(s): n. a result or the effect of an action consciousness: n. knowledge or awareness initiate(d): v. to begin equity: n. justice or fairness

designation: n. something chosen for a particular reason or purpose

suffrage: n. the right to vote in an election

right: n. a legal claim

decade: n. a period of ten years

picket(ing): v. to stand or demonstrate outside a building or place of work to prevent people from entering and working, as a means of political protest petition(ing): v. to demand or request some action from a government or other authority amendment: n. a change in a law

MUCH like Black History Month

and Women’s History Month, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month originated with a congressional bill. Two Representa­tives introduced the bill to the House of Representa­tives and two senators introduced the bill to the Sen­ate. Both of them passed, and U. S. President Jimmy Carter officially recognized Asian/Pacific Heritage Week on October 5, 1978. Several years later, in May 1990, President George H. W. Bush expanded it to a month, and designated it as Asian Pacific Heritage Month. The month of May was chosen in honor of the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants to the United States on May 7, 1843 and also the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869.

May is celebrated with community events that in­volve historical, educational, and cultural activities, and the recognition of famous Asian Americans in such fields as architecture, entertainment, athletics, educa­tion, art, and science. One historical period often dis­cussed in school curricula in May is the building of the first railroad that spanned the American continent. This railroad, largely built by Chinese immigrants, is con­sidered one of the crowning achievements of President Abraham Lincoln, even though it was completed four years after his death. To build the railroad, the Union Pacific Railroad began in Nebraska, and worked west­ward through Colorado and Wyoming to Utah. At the same time, the Central Pacific Railroad began in Cali­fornia, and moved eastward through Nevada to Utah, carving out places for railroad tracks in high mountain peaks. The two railroad companies met in the town of Promontary, Utah, where they drove in the final “gold­en spike” that brought together the east and west
coasts of the American continent. This feat revolution­ized the economy and population of the U. S. It caused the wagon trains to be obsolete, and affected com­merce, trade, and travel across the continent.

Glossary

congressional: adj. of an elected group of representatives bill: n. a proposed law in government designate(d): v. to officially choose for a particular reason or purpose

transcontinental: adj. extending across a continent span(ned): v. to cross the length between two points largely: adv. mostly; almost completely crown(ing): adj. greatest

drive: v. to provide the power to make something happen; to pound in

spike: n. a narrow thin shape with a point on one end, usually metal

feat: n. an action that involves risk or difficulty wagon train: n. a group or line of vehicles with four wheels, pulled by animals

obsolete: adj. not in use anymore because something more modern has replaced it affect(ed): v. to cause to change

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Joseph Rainey

 

Phyllis Wheately

 

Todd Duncan

 

William Carney

 

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Lack History Month is one of

the most widely-celebrated of federal months. It was originally established in 1926 as Negro History Week by noted African-Ameri­can author and Harvard University scholar, Dr. Carter G. Woodson. Dr. Woodson’s hope was that this special observance would remind all Americans of their ethnic roots, and that the commemoration would increase mutual respect. In 1976 the celebration was expanded to include the entire month, and it became known as Black History Month, also called African American History Month. The month of February was chosen since it contains the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas. Lincoln is honored because of the Emancipation Proclamation (see page 16) that freed the slaves, and Douglas is honored as one of the most influential moral leaders, orators, and authors of American history.

One aim of Black History Month is to expose the harmful effects of racial prejudice; another is to recog­nize significant contributions made by people with Af­rican heritage, including artists, musicians, scientists, political figures, educators, and athletes. During Feb­ruary, cities, communities, and educational establish­ments feature speakers and community events, often focusing on the Civil Rights Movement. In classrooms, the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King (see page 7) is commonly a part of the curriculum. Dr. King focused his energy on organizing peaceful protest demonstra­tions and marches, mostly in the American southern states. He led the great march on Washington, D. C. in 1963 where he gave his famous “I Have A Dream” speech (see page 9). Dr. King advocated a non-violent approach to social change following the philosophy of

Mohandas Gandhi. Another community activist whose life is often a part of school curricula is Rosa Parks (see pages 7-8 ). In 1955, Rosa Parks refused to sur­render her seat on the bus to a white passenger. By forcing the police to remove her, and then arrest and imprison her, she brought national attention to the civil rights movement. This incident later became a test case for repealing segregation laws.

Glossary

noted: adj. important root(s): n. origin

mutual: adj. two or more people feeling the same thing or doing the same thing to each other orator(s): n. a person who gives skillful or effective public speeches

expose: v. to uncover; to allow to be seen

feature: v. to include as a special item

activist: n. a person who actively works for a political

party or for political change

surrender: v. to give up

repeal(ing): v. to make a law no longer have any legal force

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Romualdo Pacheco

 

Rita Morena

 

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David Farragut

 

Recognition Months

 

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Hispanic Heritage Month

began as National Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968, proclaimed as such by U. S. President Lyndon B. Johnson. It was expanded to a month-long celebration in 1988. This month celebrates the traditions and cultures of all Americans who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico, and the Spanish-speaking nations of Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. September 15 was chosen since it is the an­niversary of independence of five countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico celebrates its independence on Sep­tember 15th, and Chile on September 18th.

Celebrations in September and October often in­clude cultural activities and programs with speeches, food, dance, and music that recognize the political, ar­tistic, athletic, and educational achievements of Hispan­ic Americans. One well-known political activist was Cesar Chavez who was the major force in the Labor Movement of the 1960s. Cesar Chavez was born to a poor family on a farm in Arizona in 1927. As a young child of ten, he was forced into migrant farm labor. De­spite these obstacles, he grew up to be a gifted leader and organizer. As a person well aware of the inequities that affected American farm laborers, in 1962 he found­ed the National Farm Workers Association in Califor­nia which focused on working for collective bargaining and a minimum wage for farm workers. In 1966, this association merged with other unions, forming the United Farm Workers, which advocated strikes, boy­cotts, and marches to bring about political change. Chavez adhered to the philosophy of Martin Luther King by working in non-violent ways to achieve equity. In 1968 the United Farm Workers advocated a wide­
spread boycott of California grapes, finally signing a contract with the grape growers in 1970. Chavez then continued with a boycott of California lettuce. He died in 1993, but received a posthumous National Medal of Honor Award in 1994 from President Bill Clinton, the highest civilian award that is given by the U. S. government.

Glossary

expand(ed): v. to increase

trace: v. to discover the cause or origin of something migrant: n. someone who moves from place to place, often relating to the harvest industry inequity(ies): n. a lack of equality or fair treatment found(ed): to bring something into existence collective bargain(ing): phrase. a system in which employees talk as a group to their employers to try to agree on issues such as pay and conditions of work wage: n. a fixed amount of money that is paid regularly, usually for work that requires physical skills or strength advocate(d): v. to speak in support of an idea or course of action

strike(s): n. a refusal to continue working because of an argument with an employer about working condi­tions or pay

boycott: n. a refusal to buy or support something in order to express strong disapproval, usually based on political, economic, or social reasons adhere(d) to: v. to maintain a belief or standard widespread: adj. existing in many places posthumous: adj. happening after a person’s death

Подпись: RECOGNITION MONTHSHispanic Heritage Month

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Jeanette Rankin

 

Ellen Richards

 

Amelia Earhart

 

Althea Gibson

 

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African Americans since 1900

A new Negro for a new century

About half of the nearly ten million African Americans living in 1900 had been born during the slavery period, and while slavery had not yet receded into the distant past, it seemed important to the former slaves and their descendants to stress the distance they had traveled from that past. Only forty years earlier, the overwhelming majority of black Americans – more than 85 percent – had belonged to and could be bought and sold by white owners, a deep-seated contradiction in one of the world’s oldest democra­cies with a founding document that declared that “all men are created equal.” “Natally alienated” (to use Orlando Patterson’s term), slaves were forced to perform unpaid labor, without any civil status that would guaran­tee them even such basic human rights as the right to marry, to raise their own children, or to learn how to read and write. Slavery was, and remained for a long time, a haunting and troubling memory, a scar of shame. Eman­cipation, which seemed like a rebirth from a state of social death, was indeed a “resurrection” from the tomb, as Frederick Douglass’s famous slave narrative had represented his own transformation from the status of a slave to that of a self-freed man.

The titles of Booker T. Washington’s A New Negro for a New Century (1900) and his autobiography Up from Slavery (1906) were also the slogans of the post-slavery era. Though W. E. B. Du Bois had many reasons to disagree with Washington, he shared the “up from slavery” mood and, in 1913, organized a gigantic pageant, The Star of Ethiopia, for the fiftieth anniversary celebration of the Emancipation from slavery. It was held in the New York Armory, the same building and year in which the Armory Show exposed a general American audience to modernist art. The mode was forward-looking, and at a time when an urbanizing and modernizing country seemed to love nostalgia in all forms from dialect poetry to folk cartoons, African Americans found it difficult to participate in a fake celebration of a simpler past that

included an idealized memory of slavery complete with the stock evocation of contented black retainers and nursemaids happily ensconced in the family settings of the plantation tradition. The popular minstrel images may have suggested to many Americans a comic version of a happier past, but to many blacks these images ridiculed or trivialized what had been a painful experience. Du Bois was among many who opposed the caricaturing portrait­ure of blacks in the white press as “ ‘grinning’ Negroes, ‘happy’ Negroes,” or “Aunt Jemimas,” and the “New Negro” movement spearheaded by Alain Locke defined itself in antithesis to the minstrel imagery of a “Sambo” past. For Locke, the days of “aunties,” “uncles,” and “mammies” were the days of the “old Negro” that the “New Negro” wished to leave behind. And though Locke had few sympathies for Marcus Garvey, the West Indian-born leader of the largest social movement among African Americans in the first half of the twentieth century (the Universal Negro Improvement Associ­ation), Garvey, too, proclaimed: “The Uncle Tom nigger has got to go, and his place must be taken by the new leader of the Negro race.”1

What African Americans faced was not only an idealization of the slavery past by white Americans, but also a new and rapidly advancing system of racial segregation. Segregation curtailed more and more rights, relegated blacks to a second-class status, and created a parallel universe for them (“white separatism, black parallelism,” as the historian Darlene Clark Hine put it). The concept of “separate but equal” – maintained in political journalism as well as by Supreme Court decisions like Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) – often meant an exclusion of former slaves and their descendants from ordinary citizens’ rights and employment opportunities. It forced blacks, in fact, to inhabit a separate, inferior, and quite unequal world that became known under the name of the nineteenth-century minstrelsy act “Jim Crow.” As the literary critic Jeffrey Ferguson stressed, racial separ­ation was enacted not only concerning schools, parks, hospitals, means of transportation, residences, and marital relations, but also governing grave­yards, mental institutions, homes for the elderly, special driving hours for blacks in automobiles, and separate black and white Bibles in some courts. The deepest fear stemmed from contact between black men and white women, and even the most fleeting forms of it could provoke the most violent reactions.

Washington, Du Bois, Locke, and Garvey had different notions of the direction in which blacks should be moving forward in the twentieth century: was it through industrial or higher education? Should they strive toward uplift and self-help in the here and now, while strategically accepting segregation? Should they develop a deeper historical conscious­ness and understanding of the African past, challenge absurd segregationist restrictions, and aim for full “social equality”? Should they adopt a “politics of respectability” or one of protest? Should African Americans embrace an aesthetic of black beauty or endorse the symbolic power of black pride and the slogan “Back to Africa”? Despite their different visions, the various leaders shared a sense of the importance of leaving the slavery past behind and of tackling the new obstacles to black freedom and equality that racial segregation presented.