It’s a simple little calendar.
To many, the S.C. African-American History Calendar is a small, insignificant thing.
But 25 years ago, AT&T began using it to spotlight black role models in the state. In doing so, it has inspired countless young African-Americans across the nation, many of whom did not always see themselves reflected positively.
Hollywood did not feature many blacks in its lineup. (It still has a way to go). Television was not much better. Even with their obvious flaws, we were happy to see such TV sitcoms as “Julia,” “Good Times,” “The Jeffersons” and “The Cosby Show.”
And how textbooks represented blacks, well, that’s another column.
Now we have a black president, like him or not.
So a calendar focusing on the attributes of the Matthew James Perry Jrs., Lucille Whippers, (congrats on receiving the 2013 Marjorie Amos-Frazier Pacesetter Award), and Septima Clarks is not a bad idea.
In a quarter of a century, the calendar has honored nearly 300 people; think how many others these people have inspired.
Inspiration is key
Still, some may wonder if an S.C. African-American History Calendar is needed today.
In 1989, when it was first produced, the need obviously was greater. The teaching of African-American history was limited.
Pamela P. Lackey, AT&T South Carolina president, said in her introduction that the calendar was developed initially as a resource for teachers wanting to include African-American history in their classroom curriculum.
Today, she states, it has become “a virtual Hall of Fame, combining recognition with education and drawing online visitors from around the globe.”
So yes, the need still exists.
The calendar and Black History Month, for that matter, should become obsolete only when every person IS judged by his or her character; when the color of one’s skin plays no role in decision-making, and when women are paid equally instead of 71 cents for every $1 a man makes. (Do we dare ask how that trickles down for blacks?)
Young people can always use inspiration, no matter their ethnicity or gender.
There are still families out there who are waiting to have first-generation college graduates; some who are still working two jobs and fighting their way out of poverty and despair.
Inspiration is a key that can unlock doors to make dreams reality.
Learn, be inspired
Luther Seabrook Ph.D., a retired longtime educator and community activist in New York and Charleston, is this month’s calendar honoree.
He’s appreciative of being honored, and believes the calendar is still “absolutely needed.”
Every child can benefit from learning African-American history, he believes, and he hopes the calendars will continue to be used in the classroom.
So many schools are teaching to standardized tests instead of teaching students to think and learn to live in the world, he said.
“There is a great need in the community to have vision and know history.” Blacks and whites must learn to “live together or we will all perish together,” Seabrook said.
AT&T will unveil its 2014 calendar this month, listing its 297 honorees. Instead of individuals, though, this calendar focuses on 12 events that have shaped our state’s history.
They include the Orangeburg Massacre, the Charleston hospital strike and Robert Smalls’ and the CSS Planter’s role in the Civil War.
When you get some time, go to scafricanamerican.com and view or download the calendar.
You may be inspired to learn more about our state’s history, no matter what color you are.
Reach Assistant Features Editor Shirley A. Greene at 937-5555, or firstname.lastname@example.org.