February is Black History Month and Summit Academy is planning a month full of observances, speakers, and events, including a huge celebration in our Toledo Community School. For February, our blog will be shifting gears to feature posts about Black History in Ohio, coverage from the Toledo Community observances, and we will profile the winner of our Employee Recognition award.
Summit Academy kicked off the month with a proclamation from its Board:
WHEREAS, Summit Academy Management is a state-wide district which celebrates its diversity; and
WHEREAS, it is essential that all students learn to understand the ethnic diversity of our country, which has always been a great strength of our nation; and
WHEREAS, the mission of celebrating African American heritage is to support teachers, youth leaders, and community leaders in their efforts to promote friendly awareness of the African American historical and cultural presence – with a positive, accurate global perspective; and
WHERAS, the Summit Academy Management Board recognizes that with knowledge of the history and heritage of various ethnic groups, grows understanding, pride, and appreciation in one’s own culture, and respect and appreciation for the uniqueness of those groups; and
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT, the Summit Academy Management Board of Directors proclaims February 2016 to be Black History Month in Summit Academy Schools and encourages all citizens to participate in activities designed to highlight and celebrate our rich African-American heritage, particularly as it impacts the students of Summit Academy Schools.
Meanwhile, Toledo is pulling out all the stops in its observance. Each morning students will hear a quote from a prominent figure in Black History. They will also hear music from Black History as well as prominent black musicians during the daily transitions for DI.
Additionally, each classroom has a spotlight figure and they will be decorating their classroom doors to reflect that person. The door will include name, pictures, and important information about that person. They will also (as a class) present their person to the entire school at the end of the month Black History Assembly, featuring special guest Mayor of the City of Toledo Paula Hicks-Hudson.
Other events and presentations including a stomp presentation by staff members, a dance presentation from students, and musical performances.
Full Schedule of Black History Month Guests in Toledo
- Tuesday, February 9: Toledo City Councilwoman Yvonne Harper
- Thursday, February 11: Director of Toledo Youth Commission Alicia Smith & SIG Transformational Specialist Harriet Allen
- Tuesday, February 16: Toledo City Councilwoman Theresa Gabriel
- Thursday, February 18: Toledo Branch NAACP President Ray Wood
- Tuesday, February 23: Toledo FIRST African American Female Mail Carrier Marian Williamson
And more to be announced soon!
Black History in Ohio: 10 Facts You Should Know
- African-American abolitionist and women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth gave her famous “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech at the Women’s Convention in Akron in 1851.
- Tice Davids, a runaway slave from Kentucky, may have been the inspiration for the first usage of the term “Underground Railroad,” though the origins of the term are shrouded in mystery. According to reports, after Davids swam across the Ohio River, his “owner” was unable to find him. He allegedly told the local paper that if Davids had escaped, he must have traveled on “an underground railroad.” Davids is thought to have made his way to Ripley, Ohio.
- John Mercer Langston was the first black man to become a lawyer in Ohio when he passed the Bar in 1854. When he was elected to the post of Town Clerk for Brownhelm, Ohio, in 1855 Langston became one of the first African Americans ever elected to public office in America. John Mercer Langston was also the great-uncle of Langston Hughes, famed poet of the Harlem Renaissance.
- George Washington Williams was elected the first African American to serve in the Ohio House of Representatives in 1880.
- Carl B. Stokes became the first African American elected mayor of a major American city when he was elected mayor of Cleveland in 1967.
- Ellen Walker Craig became the first African American woman elected to the office of mayor when she became mayor of Urbancrest in 1972.
- The nation’s oldest private African American university, Wilberforce University, was founded in Wilberforce, Ohio, in 1856.
- In 1888, George Myers purchased the barbershop in the Hollenden House, Cleveland’s finest hotel. Myers made the shop into one of the most modern and lavish in the nation, employing 17 barbers plus manicurists, porters, and podiatrists and installing a telephone at each chair. The hotel was a gathering spot for the social and political elite, and Myers could eventually boast of barbering eight presidents, many congressmen and celebrities including author Mark Twain. He also served as a delegate to Republican National Conventions and organized black votes for GOP candidates.
- The Ohio Civil Rights Act of 1959 was passed to “prevent and eliminate the practice of discrimination in employment against persons because of their race, color, religion, national origin, or ancestry.” Intending to end segregated restaurants, movie theaters, and other businesses, the act also guaranteed all people fair access to public facilities and private businesses.
- Cleveland resident Garrett Morgan is credited with inventing, among other things, an early prototype for the gas mask and the three-way traffic symbol. He was also the first African-American man to own a car.
Sources include Biography.com, History.com, Ohio History Connection