recess radio program

02/08/06
Black History Month on the Internet
    by John Cech

The Afro American Almanac is an excellent place to begin your journey. Here you will find biographies of distinguished African American men and women , and you can pour through the site's collection of fascinating historical documents. For example, do your children know that Thomas Jefferson's original draft of the Declaration of Independence contained language condemning King George III's indulgence of the Slave Trade? You can find his omitted text here, along with other important historical documents. Another feature of the Afro American Almanac is a selection of folk tales, where you can read stories like "Why There Is Day and Night," "Why Women Do Not Have Beards,"and "Why the Sun Lives in the Sky."

The Afro American History site is full of enlightening entries on a wide range of subjects, from a profile of the director, Oscar Micheaux, who was the first African American to produce a feature-length film; to the Menare Foundation's North Star website which is committed to documenting, preserving, and restoring the Underground Railroad safe houses; to a history of the Fifty-Fourth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Company that fought with such heroism in the Civil War.

Finally, the Encyclopedia Britannica Guide to Black History offers a comprehensive and a visually stunning site. Here, you'll find audio and video clips of famous African Americans from this century, including Jesse Owens, Thurgood Marshall, and Martin Luther King delivering his famous "I Have a Dream Speech." And don't miss the late Gwendolyn Brooks reading one of her poems. The site provides an engrossing time line of African American history in America that begins in 1517, with the early Spanish colonies. Along this hard, hard road to the present for African Americans, you'll meet such inspiring figures as Lucy Terry, the orator and writer who composed "the earliest existing poem by an African American." Her verses were preserved by the oral tradition for over a century until they were finally published. There is a very useful study guide and a fine section on the Harlem Renaissance, which describes those extraordinary figures of literature, art and entertainment who sprang out of 1920s' New York City during the height of the Jazz Age, which they were instrumental in creating. And for its encore, this site links you to dozens of other places on the Internet, where you can continue this important journey. It's a voyage through our past that will leave you moved and outraged, amazed and . . . . inspired.

Copyright 2006 John Cech

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