Black History in the Heart of the City

Jo-Carolyn Goode | 2/9/2018, 8:08 a.m.
“If race has no history, if it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of ...

“If race has no history, if it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated,” said Dr. Carter G. Woodson some sixty-five years ago.

Fearing the African American story would be forgotten fueled the life’s work of the historian, author, and journalist. He was among the first to examine African American history. Over the course of his life, he engrossed himself in the subject matter writing over twelve books on the topic. His thirst of wanting to know everything possible and the quest of his personal mission for the world to never ignore the story of African Americans compelled him to establish the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History with a few others.

The stout academician lobbied schools and organizations to study the history of African Americans. This eventually led to the beginning of Negro History Week in 1926. Since then President Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas were both responsible for the abolishment of slavery and had birthdays in February, Woodson thought it fitting for the weeklong celebration to occur during the second week in February. Presidents that followed supported the week as it evolved into a month and was officially recognized as such by then President Gerald Ford.

In a speech about the observance of Black History Month on February 10, 1976, then President Ford said, “We can seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Since then every President that has followed has celebrated how African Americans are woven into the fabric of American history and culture.

In Houston, there are many places to learn about the stony road African Americans have traveled. Below are just a few places to explore it.

*Buffalo Soldiers National Museum

Founded in 2001 by Vietnam veteran Captain Paul J. Matthews, the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum is the only museum dedicated to honoring the legacy of African American soldiers from the Revolutionary War to the present. Visitors to the museum can see various exhibitions on No Man’s Land, Vietnam, Artillery, World War I and World War II, Tech Wall, and the Forgotten Faces of Ft. Craig. In addition, Buffalo Soldiers National Museum has a variety of programs that travel to educate the masses about the Buffalo Soldiers.

*Houston Museum of African American Culture

The Houston Museum of African American Culture collects, conserves, explores, interprets, and exhibits the material and intellectual culture of Africans and African Americans in Houston, Texas, the southwest and the African Diaspora according to their website. HMAAC offers a variety of programs and learning opportunities for visitors of all ages and backgrounds, from guided tours to film screenings, to hands-on arts and craft activities! We strive to provide a variety of entertaining and enlightening learning experiences, to serve as a resource for Houston's diverse landscape of communities, to broaden public awareness of arts and culture through the African American lens and explore how other cultures intersect with African American history, art and culture.