Black History Month - 2020
I’m adopted and was raised by a white family in rural Arkansas. As much as my parents tried to teach me about Black History, they were limited in their knowledge and the public school system fell short. I’ve done A Poster A Day series every February. My goal in this is to both learn more about Black historical figures and events but also share that knowledge with others in engaging and exciting ways. Each poster is accompanied with a writeup or video explaining the significance of the subject.
This has been one of my favorite recurring projects as it gives me a challenge to communicate effectively while also giving me creative freedom to see the task through.
Here are some of my favorites from 2020.
There aren’t very many Black women that have made it to compete on the highest level. In fact, the first one wasn’t until 1980 (Luci Collins). But the ones that did have gone on to inspire generation upon generation.
Dominique Dawes (bottom) was the first Black person (male or female) to win an Olympic gold in gymnastics. (She went to the Olympics three times in 1992, 1996, and 2000.) Following in her footsteps, Gabby Douglas (top) won golds in the 2012 and 2016 games and became the first Black woman in history to become the individual all-around Olympic champion (oh, and the only American EVER to be all-around champ and win multiple golds in a single Olympic games). She and Simone Biles (middle) were members of the 2016 olympic team, which cleaned HOUSE.
Biles is the most decorated American gymnast with a total of 30 Olympic and World Championship medals… and she’s still kicking. She’s planning to compete at the 2020 games with 3 other teammates. Here’s hoping she and the rest of the team can bring home some more hardware for the USA.
This isn’t even mentioning the other insanely talented individuals like Kyla Ross, Diane Durham, Betty Okino, or Dionne Foster. They may not have the accolades like the three here, but each of them have shown young girls and boys that if they wanna do gymnastics, they can. The world needs more Black models of hard work, perseverance, and grace.
The Chitlin’ Circuit
In the early-to-mid 1900s, racial segregation was rampant. You’ve probably seen signs of bathrooms and water fountains for “coloreds”. Trains were divided by a curtain once they crossed into Southern states, one side for Whites, one side for Blacks. In the south, it was especially hard for Black entertainers to find work since there were so many laws against it.
Enter the Chitlin’ Circuit. Named after a “garbage-turned-gold” soul food dish, the Chitlin Circuit was a collection of venues that were targeted at providing work for Black people in the entertainment industry. Dozens of nightclubs, bars, and dance halls scattered throughout the eastern half of the USA (from Texas to Michigan to NYC) played host to a variety of performers, including Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Jimi Hendrix, Marvin Gaye, Lena Horne, B.B. King, The Supremes, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin — the list is EXTREMELY long.
They didn’t ever pay very much, but it was just enough to keep the dream alive. These artists’ drive would inspire others to keep striving for something you believe in even if it’s not accepted by the world’s standards.