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Skits, Scripts, & Stuff

These pages provide some articles, short biograhies, and simple skits we have used to celebrate Black History. See also Black History page at Poetry Corner.

Black History Month - Celebrate Black History Month by learning of heroes past and present who made changes that affect us all. Many Black Americans helped make this country great. Some never received recognition even to this date. Pay close attention so you won't overlook; some great Black achievements omitted from the History Book.

ARTICLES

Black History
Welcome to our program as we celebrate Black History. Learn of heroes past and present who made changes for you and me. Did you know Africans landed on the South American continent and influenced Indian civilization before the arrival of the white man? Did you know Black men were members of Columbus' crew? Did you know Black History began with the landing of twenty Africans from a Dutch ship in Jamestown, Virginia in August, 1619, more than a year before the Pilgrim Fathers set foot on Plymouth Rock? Most of the early Black Americans came in chains and died in chains, but there were some who pointed the way toward freedom. There were many who influenced the course of American History....some through inventions and discoveries; some through speaking and writing; some through music, art, education, or athletics; and some even through martyrdom. We hope our program will enlighten our youth of heroes and heroines of the past who helped make our world what it is today, and offer inspiration to help them realize that the heroes of the future are our youth of today.

Salute to Historic Black Firsts
To be first takes a special kind of person..someone willing to stand out from the crowd and be counted. The following individuals overcame heavy odds on his or her way into history. Each represents a tremendous accomplishment. By being first, they stood where all could see and bore the weight of their race on their shoulders, and proved themselves worthy.

Dr. James Derham rose from the depths of slavery to become the "first" prominent Black doctor in the United States.

Hiram Revels was the "first" Black elected to Congress.

Shirley Chisholm was the "first" Black woman elected to the U. S. Congress.

Jack Johnson was the "first" Black heavy-weight boxing champion of the world.

Thurgood Marshall was the "first" Black to serve on the U. S. Supreme Court.

Jesse Jackson was the "first" Black man to run for the President of the United States.

Fritz Pollard was the "first" Black coach in professional football.

Dr. Daniel Hale Williams was the "first" doctor to successfully perform open heart surgery.

Charlotte Ray was the "first" Black woman lawyer.

Guion Bluford was the "first" Black American in space.

Benjamin Oliver Davis Sr. was the "first" Black American to become a general in the U. S. Army.

James Augustine Healy became the "first" Black Catholic Priest and Bishop in the United States.

Jackie Robinson became the "first" Black to play on a Major League baseball team.

William Grant Still was the "first" Black classical composer.

Althea Gibson was the "first" Black Wimbledon champion.

Mary McLeod Bethune was the "first" Black woman to receive a major U. S. government appointment.

The above mentioned are only a few of the many Black pioneers who were willing to bear the burden of sacrifice and responsibility by being "firsts". They cleared the path for all who come after them.

Civil Rights Leaders and Abolitionists
Today, racism and prejudice, based on skin color still exist. For hundreds of years, since the days of slavery, blacks have had to fight an uphill battle to obtain their basic human rights. Many brave men and women struggled and fought for the rights of Blacks. They fought for equal education and job opportunities, equal justice under the law, the right to vote, and open housing. They fought to make America a better world. The following Black men and women believed in the principle that all men and women are created equal, and they made an essential contribution to the development of Black america.

Federick Douglass (1817-1895) Abolitionist, editor, author, lecturer and major Black leader of the 19th century. He is often called the "Father of the Civil Rights Movement."

Sojourner Truth (1797-1883) Abolitionist, orator, and leader of Women's Right Movement. She lectured widely and fought for the rights of Black settlers on the Western frontier.

Harriet Tubman (1821-1913) "Moses" - Abolitionist, Union scout, and spy made nineteen trips into South and rescued more than three hundred slaves by way of the Underground Railroad.

W. E. B. Dubois (1868-1963) Civil Rights leader and scholar was co-founder of the NAACP and the Pan-African Movement.

Malcolm X (1925-1965) Protest leader and Muslim Minister was a leading spokesman for the cause of Black Nationalism.

Ida Wells (1862-1931) Editor, Civil Rights leader and Women's Rights advocate was a co-founder of the NAACP and began the anti-lynching crusade in America.

Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968) Civil Rights leader and Minister was a major leader of the Freedom Movement of the 60's. He fought against inequality and received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.

Black Scientists and Inventors
During the days of slavery, many of the slave masters took actual credit for their slaves' creative ideas. Black scientists and inventors were not always able to get patents. Throughout time, Black scientists and inventors have been represented in almost every field. Blacks have been responsible for the advancement of major industries. Elijah McCoy invented the lubricator which kept trains moving without failure and down-time. Jan Matzeliger taught us how to mass-produce shoes. Garrett Morgan brought order to our streets with his automatic traffic light, and Charles Drew taught us how to effectively save blood for future use. He established the first blood bank in the United States. These scientists and inventors proved that all things are possible. George Washington Carver was born a slave but rose to become the world famous scientist who invented nearly three hundred products from the peanut. Percy Julian was a famous research chemist who developed an inexpensive method of making cortisone, a synthetic drug used to treat glaucoma and a special foam used to put out fires. The standard of living enjoyed by this country today would not be possible were it not for the efforts of these and other Black scientist and inventors.

Black Educators, Scholars, and Poets
"Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart." Psalm 119:111. There are many Blacks who influenced the course of American History through education, music and art, and some through speaking and writing.

Mary McLeod Bethune - An inspiration to Black leaders as the founder of the National Council of Negro Women and Bethune-Cookman College; and Director of Negro Affairs for the National Youth Administration.

Booker T. Washington - The most influential Black American leader of his day. He founded Tuskegee Institute, one of the first colleges for Black Americans.

Langston Hughes - Born in Joplin Missouri. Poet, playwright, author, and newspaper columnist carried poetry to the people and is often called the Poet Laureate of Black America. He wrote his first volume of poetry, "Weary Blues" in 1926. During his lifetime he published ten volumes of poetry and sixty-six short stories.

James Weldon Johnson - Civil Rights leader, poet, and diplomat was the first Black secretary of the NAACP and the co-author of the Negro National Anthem, "Lift Every Voice and Sing."

Alex Haley - Born in Ithaca, New York. As a child he received a slice of tree that had the rings marked with dates of Black History. He is the author of the popular best seller, "Roots", through which he became the first Black American to trace his lineage back to Africa.

James Baldwin - Born in Harlem, New York. His novel, "Go Tell it on the Mountain" was published in 1953. "The Fire Next Time" and "Nobody Knows My Name" are two of his most famous books.

Nikki Giovanni - born in Knoxville, Tenneessee. She has been called the "Princess of Black Poetry." Her volume, "Black Feelings, Black Talk" was published in 1968.

Commemorative Stamps
The human images found on any nation's postage stamps afford great insight into those persons who have become unforgettable icons within the memories of that nation. Black Americans have been honored on many U. S. stamps. In 1940, Booker T. Washington became the first Black American to be depicted on a stamp. Some of the many others are: Martin Luther King Jr, Benjamin Banneker, Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Jan Matzeliger, Mary McLeod Bethune, Jackie Robinson, Carter G. Woodson, Ida Wells, James Weldon Johnson, W. E. B. Dubois, George Washington Carver, Harriett Tubman, Dr. Carles Drew, Ralph Bunche, and Percy L. Julian. As you read the achievements of these Black Americans, you will realize that they were indeed worthy of the honor bestowed upon them.

Negro National Anthem
Written by James Weldon Johnson and set to music by his brother Rosamond, "Lift Every Voice and Sing" was known for decades as the Negro National Anthem. It was first performed on January 12, 1900 by five hundred school children at a celebration for Abraham Lincoln's birthday. In the years that followed, the school children continued to sing the Anthem and when some of them became teachers, they taught it to their students. In less than twenty years, the moving words and stirring music of this Anthem were being sung throughout the South, as well as other parts of the country. Today, it still speaks so eloquently of hope, promise and perseverance.

Dr. King Holiday
A new holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has been added to the calendar. Although Dr. King was born on January 15, 1929; the third Monday in January is a national holiday in which the nation celebrates his birth. After Dr. King died in 1968; his wife, Mrs. Coretta King, Stevie Wonder, Congressman John Conyers, Congresswoman Katie Hall, and others worked hard to make Dr. King's birthday a special day for all Americans. Finally in 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed the bill making Dr. King's birthday a holiday. This holiday gives Americans a chance to remember Dr. King and the importance of equal rights for all people. The King Center hopes that Americans will not use this holiday just as a day of rest, but use the day to work for peace and freedom; a day to carry on the same peaceful ideas of Dr. King which are the same ideas stated in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.




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