DR’s Black History Month Message
Black History Month is an annual observance originating in the United States, where it is also known as African-American History Month. It has received official recognition from governments in the United States and Canada, and more recently has been observed in Ireland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. It began as a way of remembering important people and events in the history of the African diaspora. It is celebrated in February in the United States and Canada, while in Ireland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom it is observed in October.
The precursor to Black History Month was created in 1926 in the United States, when historian Brother Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History announced the second week of February to be “Negro History Week”. This week was chosen because it coincided with the birthday of Abraham Lincoln on February 12 and of Frederick Douglass on February 14, both of which dates black communities had celebrated together since the late 19th century. Negro History Week was the center of the equation. The thought-process behind the week was never recorded, but scholars acknowledge two reasons for its birth: recognition and importance. Woodson felt deeply that at least one week would allow for the general movement to become something annually celebrated. Also, after the ten-year long haul to successfully complete his “Journal of Negro History”, he realized the subject deserved to resonate with a greater audience.
Omega’s involvement with Black History
In the Third District – “The Birthplace of Omega” – James Town 1916!
On August 20, 1619, “20 and odd” Angolans, kidnapped by the Portuguese, arrive in the British colony of Virginia and are then bought by English colonists. The arrival of the enslaved Africans in the New World marks a beginning of two and a half centuries (400 plus years) of slavery in North America.
Founded at Jamestown in 1607, the Virginia Colony was home to about 700 people by 1619. The first enslaved Africans to arrive there disembarked at Point Comfort, in what is today known as Hampton Roads (my hometown area). Most of their names, as well as the exact number who remained at Point Comfort, have been lost to history, but much is known about their journey.
They were originally kidnapped by Portuguese colonial forces, who sent captured members of the native Kongo and Ndongo kingdoms on a forced march to the port of Luanda, the capital of modern-day Angola. From there, they were ordered on the ship San Juan Bautista, which set sail for Veracruz in the colony of New Spain. As was quite common, about 150 of the 350 captives aboard the ship died during the crossing. Then, as it approached its destination, the ship was attacked by two privateer ships, the White Lion and the Treasurer. Crews from the two ships stole up to 60 of the Bautista’s slaves. It was the White Lion which docked at Virginia Colony’s Point Comfort and traded some of the prisoners for food on August 20, 1619.
My visits while in the military to the motherland included Somalia (I was a Company Commander in the United States Army during “Blackhawk Down”), Egypt and Kenya Africa.
Last, the Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) such as Norfolk State University (My Alma Mater), Virginia State University, Virginia Union University, Hampton University, University of the District of Columbia, Howard University are rich in African American history of yesterday and today.
God is good! Yes, Black Lives Matter!
Conrado B. Morgan
Brother Conrado B. Morgan
Third District Representative
Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.