For African Americans, this New Year of 2019 marks 400 years of perseverance. Records reveal, in 1619, at least 20 Africans arrived in the fledgling English colony of Virginia. This English colony had been founded only a few years earlier, in 1607. Today, a website will serve as a clearinghouse for local, national and even international events to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Africans in the Virginia Colony. The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) launched this webpage on the date of Dec. 19 in honor of the birthday of its founder, Dr. Carter Godwin Woodson, the Father of Black History and a pioneer of multiculturalism.
ASALH establishes the annual theme each year for Black History Month celebrations around the world. The 2019 theme is “Black Migrations.” The 400th Commemoration theme, “400 Years of Perseverance,” is a central part of the larger theme. ASALH’s 400th Commemoration Committee was established under the leadership of ASALH Executive Council member Professor Gloria J. Browne-Marshall, in order to honor the ancestors who came to America through forced migration.
“Through their resilience and perseverance they made it possible for all of us to be here today,” said Browne-Marshall in a release. She is the author of “Race, Law, and American Society: 1607 to Present.” “The public is invited to share all of their 400-related commemorative activities with the world by placing them on ASALH’s commemorative calendar.”
Visit the webpage at: https://asalh.org/400-years/.
ASALH will post and update information on its website to encourage the study of this 400-year journey from 1619 to 2019. ASALH’s National Calendar of Events already contains 400th commemorative activities taking place across the country. Instructions for the Family Mentoring activity are on the website under ‘Study the 400-Year Journey.’
“As we have promoted since our centennial in 2015, we encourage you to participate in and share with others the Family Mentoring Mission Statement Activity,” said Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, president of ASALH and the first African American chair of the History Department at Harvard University. “It was our founder, Dr. Woodson, who emphasized that family research should take place in every household. We are continuing that legacy.”
The local branch of The Association for the Study of African American Life and History is named the Dr. Edna B. McKenzie Branch.
Dr. McKenzie was a force in and of herself. Born in 1923 in Fayette County, she worked at the Pittsburgh Courier in the 1940s and progressed from writing the “Society Column” to hard news stories, and earned a reputation for truthfulness in reporting on issues and activities important in the lives of African Americans, according to an in memoriam written by V.P. Franklin.
Dr. McKenzie later became the first Black woman to receive a doctorate in history from the University of Pittsburgh, and served on the faculty of the Community College of Allegheny County for more than 23 years, teaching American and African American history and education.
Dr. McKenzie was a member of the Executive Council of ASALH. She died in 2005.
On Feb. 2, the Dr. Edna B. McKenzie Branch hosted an event at the Downtown Pittsburgh Carnegie Library. Presenters were Dr. Melvin “Lyric” Steals who presented on William Henry Lavender Wolfe and Mrs. Linda McDougald, who gave a presentation on the Witchers of Danville, Virginia and the Pollard family.
Ronald B. Saunders read a proclamation from the president of Johnson C. Smith University, Clarence Armbrister, on behalf of William Henry Lavender Wolfe, who was Ron’s great grandfather. William Wolfe attended Biddle Institute before it became Johnson C. Smith University.
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