Tag: Black History Month

Denied Library Acess 55 Years Ago Harvey Is Author Series Speaker

By Michael February 9, 2020 0

In 1962, Harold Michael Harvey was a 12-year-old with an insatiable appetite for reading books. He liked baseball and rocks. He loved reading books about baseball and rocks.

When he had read all the books in his mother’s library at home, and in the library at Eugenia Hamilton Elementary School, he asked his mom if she would take him to the library on Washington Avenue. He wanted to check out a book on Willie Mays, one of his favorite baseball players. read more

Harvey's Black History Month Calendar Released

By Michael January 29, 2020 0

Cascade Publishing House (CPH) is pleased to release the speaking appearances of its founder and publisher, Harold Michael Harvey, during the 2020 Black History Month observance. The theme of this year’s celebration is 2020 African Americans and the Vote.

On February 1, 2020, Harvey will be honored by the Tuskegee University Baseball team as the team pays tribute to 29 former Tuskegee University baseball players during the team’s Black History Month observance. read more

Black History Opening Remarks

By Michael March 1, 2016 0

Black History Month 2016 has run its course this year. However, Black History is more than a month. Black History is an event that has significance three hundred and sixty-five days a year, and in leap years like this one, three hundred and sixty-six days a year.

I was honored during Black History Month 2016 by two museums which document and maintain the rich cultural history of the Black community in America.

First on Saturday, February 27, 2016, the Sights & Sounds Black Cultural Expo Museum presented me with a “Distinguished Honoree” award for service to humanity over the course of my lifetime. For a young man, such as myself, this was a humbling experience, especially as I believe that my greatest work is ahead of me.

Then, on Sunday, February 28, 2016, I spoke at The Official Noble Hill-Wheeler Memorial Center in Cartersville, Georgia the first school for “colored children” built in Northwest Georgia by the Rosenwald Foundation.

The goal of these museums is a noble one. Their importance is underscored given the fact that many entertainers who have reached a modicum of success in America argue for the proposition that it is no longer important, nor necessary to remember Black History in the larger context of the American experience. Miss Stacy Dash is the latest affluent Black person to denigrate the observance of Black History. She is joined by Whoopi Goldberg, Raven Symone, Charles Barclay and Morgan Freeman, just to list a few.

Marcus Garvey said, “A people without a knowledge of  their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” The great historian W. E. B. Dubois said it thusly, “The past is the present, that without what was nothing is, but for the infinite dead, the living are but unimportant bits.” It is easy, therefore, to see how an absence of history in the context of the American melting pot  can lead to an out of sight, “outta” mind reality for any ethnic group.

Young people should realize that the proselytizing glamour and athletic stars have found their money pipeline. These stars are fearful that they could lose their gravy train if, in the vernacular of the the 1960’s, “The Man” gets upset with the thrust of Black people for justice and equality under the color of American law.

Seemingly, they are saying to the brothers and sisters who are not performing on the field or stage to “go slow, tone it down, don’t embarrass a politician who needs your vote. Be polite, we gonna get all of the gravy and you can relish in the fact that a brother or sister made it, skinning and grinning in front of “The Man.”

During my speech to the group in Cartersville, I centered my opening remarks with an overview of why Black History Month started as a single week of Negro History and expanded to a month long celebration in 1970 that wraps up today for 2016. God forbid that the more wealthy Black people among us do not get their wish and this becomes our last observance of the role and scope of Black people in the American scheme of things. I then moved into the topic that will consume us as a society for the remainder of this decade, the need for “Reparatory Justice.”

Kindly enjoy my opening remarks by clicking on the link below.

Black History Month Observance at Noble Hill-Wheeler Memorial …Harold Michael Harvey’s opening remarks during Black History program at The Official Noble Hill-Wheeler Memorial Center, February 28, 2016.

Posted by Harold Michael Harvey on Monday, February 29, 2016 read more

Why Do Blacks Not Feel The Bern?

By Michael February 22, 2016 45

Why do Blacks not feel “The Bern,” a twitter connection from my hometown of Macon, Georgia tweeted me the other day?

“Why are Blacks supporting the HRC Machine,” he tweeted. “I don’t get it. Can you explain? Is it the Jewish thing or the not electable argument?”

“Bernie is preaching the spirit of the Gospel and blacks are missing his message, ” I responded with a promise to give more thought into this political anomaly.

I’m often asked in private conversation what I think about a variety of things. People throughout the world whom I have never met, nor likely will meet, will connect with me on social media when they are looking for truthful answers without a spin on one side of an issue or the other.

I am not quite sure why I have come to have such respect among the people I meet on social media, or a few people who know me in real life, who have a similar admiration for my ability to give them a rounded answer. The twitter referenced here is a man whose hand I have shaken in the flesh, and  with whom I have attempted to solve one or two of the world’s problems over a good meal and beverage or two. Although it should not matter, my friend is white, a Sanders supporter and wonders why the Sanders message is not resonating with Black folks.

Many of my Black friends have asked a similiar question.  The difference is my Black friends couch this question this way: “Do you think Sanders can get the Black vote?” Imagine a black person asking what other blacks will do with a vote that is in that black person’s hand.

I have never given a definitive answer to their questions. I usually say, “I don’t know,” which is the truth; but I have left these conversations puzzled in my own mind over this conundrum of contemporary American politics and determined to gain some clarity of thought on this issue.

As I ponder the reasons Blacks are not feeling “The Bern,” Harriet Tubman keeps coming to the forefront of my mind.

After the conclusion of the Civil War, Mrs. Tubman once said, ” I could have freed more slaves, if more people knew they were slaves.”

This statement is shared in a perfunctory manner on social media. Oftentimes, Blacks sharing it and reading it think how sad that more Blacks enslaved in that day did not realize that they were not free. Who needs a “Black Moses,” as Tubman was called, when you know with a degree of certainty how to navigate your way around the plantation?

As Malcolm X would point out a hundred years after Tubman’s exploits on the “Underground Railroad,” in his analysis of the “House Negro and the Field Negro:”

“Where  can you find a better house than this? Where can you find better food than this? Where can you find a better master than this?”

Black folks share these quotes of Tubman and Malcolm, especially in February during Black History Month, without taking into account that these words have application to the situation of Black Americans today.

On the campaign trail, Secretary Hillary Clinton in essence says to Black folks:

Hey don’t worry about anything. I’ll be the first white lady in the big White House, that your ancestors built and I’ll take care of you. I apologize for calling young Black men ‘serious predators’ and for encouraging congress to pass tough sentencing guidelines that have taken Black men out of the community and placed them in prison for most of their lives, if they were lucky to survive after 30 or 40 years. I apologize for supporting the expansion of private prisons which has led to more Black men being behind bars than those attending college. You know, it’s a tough world, and I have had to make the tough decisions. We were all scared of those Black men and had to do something about them. You don’t need to go anywhere else, stay right here with me. Where can you find a better Whitehouse than this? Where can you find  better food on your table than what Bill and I can provide for you? Where can you find better caretakers than Bill and I?

As Harriet Tubman found out, the “House Negroes” had a compelling argument for staying on the plantation; this is no less true for Clinton’s sales pitch to descendants of enslaved Africans. Many feel more comfortable with the reality they know rather than in venturing out to seek an alternative to the status quo.

This gets me to that spirit thing and that Jewish thing.

Bernie Sanders is a Jew. You would hardly know it because he does not make his cultural and religious upbringing a litmus test for seeking votes, unlike Clinton who oftens mentions that if elected, she would be the first woman president. A powerful Clinton supporter, Madelyn Albright, said there is a special place reserved in Hades for women who do not vote for Hillary Clinton, because she is a women.

If elected Bernie Sanders will become the first Jew elected president. However, he is not running on his Jewishness, but on ideas conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that All Americans should share in the wealth and prosperity of this bountiful land.

What is confusing about Sanders lack of support among Black folks is that the Black community is still largely a very religious community. Sanders platform comes straight out of the “Sermon on the Mount,” that was preached by an itinerant Jewish Rabbi.

Sanders believes that it is not okay that only ninety percent of Americans have health insurance. Many of those in the ten percent category without health insurance are Black Americans who live in southern states controlled by Republican governors and legislatures. These southern states chose not to expand their state run medicaid programs to insure their citizens. “The Bern” believes that the government should provide health insurance to all Americans.

Sanders believes that it is shameful that the unemployment rate among Black folks is at least fifty percent. He wants to create a jobs program to repair the country’s infrastructure that will eliminate unemployment in the Black community.  The crux of Sanders work program is to raise the minimum wage to $15.00 an hour.

This will directly benefit the working “Black poor,” who will have sufficient income to take care of their families. Most sociologist agree that the absence of jobs in a community creates a pathway to crime for young people in those communities.

This measure will have enormous impact in improving the quality of life in the Black community and in eliminating the rising rate of crime and drive by shootings.

The centerpiece of the Sanders platform, and probably the thing that does not resonate with Black folk is his notion that the rich should be taxed more to provide for health insurance for all Americans and college tuition  for all Americans, including Black people, who qualify for college.

In short, Sanders’ platform is the specifics “of the things hoped for” in the Obama campaign of 2008.

Which brings me to the electability argument.

Black folks lack the faith “of the evidence of things not seen” in order to give birth to a reality that ultimately will empower their community.  Since, it is not apparent that Sanders can take on the giant corporations and win, like it was not apparent that the shepherd boy David could defeat Goliath, Black folks are skeptical about joining the Sanders political revolution.

When the dust clears in Philadelphia this summer, I will break bread with my friend in Macon, and, perhaps lament, that Bernie Sanders could have moved Black folks off the plantation, if only more of them knew they were still on the plantation.

SOURCES:

Why are Blks supporting the HRC machine. I don’t get it. Can U explain? Is it the Jewish thing or the not electable argument

Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist, the author of Paper puzzle and Justice in the Round. He can be contacted at haroldmichaelharvey.com. read more

Octavia Vivian: A Tribute

By Michael February 6, 2016 0

“Hello,” Mrs. Vivian said answering the telephone in a soft, sweet voice full of life.

“May I speak with Dr. Vivian,” I said.

“He is traveling,” the wife of 59 years replied.  “I will have him call you.”

 

That was four weeks ago and my last conversation with Octavia Vivian.  In the twenty years, we have been neighbors I have had several hundred conversations with her husband, Rev. Dr. C. T. Vivian, many in her presence; yet seldom did she interject herself into the conversation.  She would leave us to our intellectual discussions, our intellects free to roam and explore resolutions of war and peace, and full participation in the American dream.  Such was the sweet spirit that was and will always be Octavia Geans Vivian.  Three weeks later we gathered to give her our final goodbyes. read more

Tuskegee Honored at Hall of Fame

By Michael February 25, 2015 4

Tuskegee honored at Hall of Fame.  The crimson helmet of the Golden Tigers of Tuskegee is on display as part of the College Football Hall of Fame’s “Helmet of the Week” feature.

It is an appropriate designation as the month long celebration of Black History draws to a close next week. After all, the legendary football program at Tuskegee has won more games than any other Historically Black College or University (HBCU) in the history of college football.

The school, located in East Alabama, began playing football in 1894 under the tutelage of  James Washington. Coach Washington was the brother of the school’s first principal, Booker T. Washington. He organized the first football team with the assistance of William Clarence Matthews, a student-athlete who had learned the intricacies of the game of football.

Matthews did not play on the football team. He helped Washington coach that first team to an 0-2 season. Matthews was a member of the Tuskegee baseball team and would later go on to play baseball for four years at Harvard, where in 1905, he was described as the ideal black person to re-integrate major league baseball.

When the baseball owners were slow to act, Matthews abandoned the idea of playing professional baseball. He enrolled into law school at Boston University. He would later represent Marcus Garvey and serve President Calvin Coolidge in the Justice Department as a Senior United States Attorney General. Until the appointment of Eric Holder by President Barack Obama in 2008, he was the highest ranking black person to ever serve in the Justice Department.

Since that maiden 1894 season, Tuskegee’s football program closed out the 2014 season with 637 wins under its belt. Their nearest competitor is Grambling University with 535 wins. Ironically, Grambling University was founded in 1901 by  Charles P. Adams, son of Lewis Adams, who founded Tuskegee University in 1881.

On a recent visit to the College Football Hall of Fame, I pointed out a video presentation to a visitor of the Hall and said, “Here is the winningest black college football team in history.”

The other person replied, “Who is that, Grambling.”

“No,” I replied, “Tuskegee!”

“I would have thought that Grambling would have won the most given all those games won by Eddie Robinson,” he said.

It is easy to see how this gentleman could be mistaken over this fact, because the HOF honors both Eddie Robinson who coached at Grambling and Jake Gaither who coached at Florida A&M.

However, there is not a display of the exploits of Cleveland “Cleve” Leigh  Abbott, the Tuskegee Coach who amassed 202 wins from 1923-1954. Coach Abbott is the dean of black college football coaches. He won national championships in 1924, 1925, 1926, 1927, 1929, and 1930.

According to Kristin Couch, spokesperson for the College Football Hall of Fame, “This February we’ve featured HBCUs as our Helmets of the Week in honor of Black History Month. The Hall of Fame has a great display on the history of HBCU football and artifacts from many of the schools including Tuskegee.”

“When you enter the College Football Hall of Fame and Chick-fil-A Fan Experience, you are greeted by the Helmet Wall Presented by Southwest Airlines, featuring helmets from  every Div. I, II, III and NAIA school that has a football team – 768 helmets! 

When visitors register their entry badge and choose their school, their helmet lights up on the wall. At the end of the day, the wall is lit with helmets from schools all over the country. It’s really a sight to see,” Couch said. read more

Paper Puzzle Signing

By Michael February 13, 2015 0

The novelist and essayist Harold Michael Harvey will appear at the Sights & Sounds Black Cultural Museum, Saturday, February 14, 2015 to autograph his novel Paper Puzzle. The public is welcome to come out and visit with the author from 10:00 a. m. until 2:30 p. m.

Long before Ferguson and Staten Island, Harvey was writing about the injustices in the judicial system. Paper Puzzle is a modern day Southern murder mystery that exposes the underbelly of the good ol’ boy network of power and judicial system abuse.

C. T. Vivian, a recent Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, and the Director of Affiliates for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference under Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., says that Harvey is a crafty author and is one of the best storytellers in the 21st century.

Harvey weaves tidbits of American history through this suspenseful tale. His character Dorsey Pitts and the manner in which he died at the hands of the State is eerily reminiscent of the death of Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York.

The novel was commenced in 1978 and is a harbinger of things to come. It accurately predicted local law enforcement department making use of military style weapons. Paper Puzzle depicted military tanks rolling down the streets of Macon, Georgia in 1968 to put down citizen protests in the wake of the assassination of Dr. King.

If you are interested in what is taking place in the judicial system today, Paper Puzzle is a book that you simply must read. It has more twists and turns than Shonda Rhimes, How To Get Away With Murder.

Saturday will be Harvey’s first appearance at Sights & Sounds Black Cultural Museum in over two years. He said, “I like signing my book at Sights & Sounds because the cultural history in the museum presents the perfect backdrop for the lives of the characters in Paper Puzzle.”

 

Harold Michael Harvey, JD, is the author of the legal thriller “Paper Puzzle,” available at Amazon and at haroldmichaelharvey.com. He can be contacted at hmharvey@haroldmichaelharvey.com

 

 

 

 

Black History Week 1969

By Michael February 7, 2015 7

It was the forty-fifth day of the year, the last day of Black History Week 1969. I was a senior at the Lanier Senior High School, probably no more than five feet eight inches tall, and weighing in, after being soaked in a rainstorm, at one hundred and fifteen pounds.

Lanier had opened its doors to educate white boys exclusively in Macon, Georgia, three years before Dr. Carter G. Woodson began the first observance of Negro History Week in 1927.  Most of the town’s leading white citizens had graduated from Lanier. Many did not go on to college. It was enough to have been a “Lanier Boy.” The discipline and bearing of a Lanier boy were unmatched by any white youngster growing up in Middle Georgia during that day.

In 1964, Vernon Pitts, a rising senior at Ballard-Hudson Senior High School, the town’s oldest Negro high school, was permitted to enroll at Lanier by a federal court order. This broke a forty-year pattern of racial segregation at Lanier. Bert Bivins, a graduate of Ballard-Hudson High School had integrated Dudley Hughes, trade school, the year before after completing his military service. Also, the novelist Tina McElroy Ansa had previously integrated Mount de Sales Academy, a school run by the Catholic church in Macon, Georgia.

The following year, another court order opened the door for me to enroll in the ninth grade at Lanier Junior High School. There were perhaps twelve or fifteen of us. We were sent forth to test whether black and white students could successfully navigate the high school years without the racial violence that was prevalent in the larger society.

Throughout our high school years, we were out-numbered about ten-to-one. We were pioneers and as pioneers, we drew the brunt of white anguish over the changing times. We endured the same verbal and emotional abuse that white adults hurled upon civil rights demonstrators in the streets of southern America.

Our abuse was out of sight of television cameras. We were like captives on an island, with “nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.” There was the obvious name-calling, spitballs, a few fist fights, which in spite of the racial overtones were more boys being boys than racial hatred, and one serious threat painted on the wall of the military science building in 1968: “Niggers go home or die!”

No one went home! No one died! It fired me up.

I had for three years suppressed my desire to observe Black History Week. Needless to say, they did not teach, at Lanier, any meaningful contributions to society made by black people. The closest we came to a discussion of black people was about slavery. The hidden beauty of my segregated education prior to 1965 was in the fact that Black principals and Black teachers made sure that each February their Black students got a reminder of their place in American history.

Contributions of black people to America’s cultural and political development were never acknowledged. To do so, would hasten the day when blacks would be treated with the same equality as whites. And, on that day, no self-respecting white person wanted to give life to this possibility. Thus, my first three years at Lanier were devoid of any honorable mention of Negro History Week, the term that was in vogue in the 1960s.

I did not dare ask school administrators if the school would sponsor an observance of Black History Week. I believed that such a request would have died a terrible death and drawn more silent wrath to my remaining weeks in high school.

The thought came to me, that if all the black guys wore suits one day during Black History Week, we would cause our white colleagues to look at us in ways they had never considered before that day. This was a nice non-lethal plan, easy enough to pull off, one would have thought.

However, the plan presented two obstacles.

First, I had to convince about eighty black boys, some who did not own a suit, to wear a suit on Friday, February 14, a day that the kids usually wore blue jeans and sneakers( Students were required to wear a military uniform Monday through Wednesday and usually wore a nice pair of dress slacks on Thursdays). This was my first community organizing job. I spent a solid week on the phone lobbying all 80 black students. Initially, I was met with resistance. The guys were simply afraid to stick their heads out of the fox-hole.

So I twisted the arms of three popular athletes: Kenneth Nixon, the oldest brother of future NBA All-Star, “Norm” Nixon, James “JT” Thomas, a future winner of four Super Bowls, and Isaac Jackson, who was being recruited to Kansas by NFL All-Pro running back, Gale Sayers. When the word got out that Nixon, Thomas, and Jackson were on-board, the other kids agreed.

I went to sleep the night before the big event not knowing what to expect. When I walked on campus, I was greeted by brothers wearing suits, raised clenched fists, and the salutation: “Right on, Brother Harold!”

It was a spectacular day at ole Lanier Senior High School. The brothers looked good. Each of us represented the best of our people and the best in our families. Their chests were stuck out like never before that day. I could feel the buoyancy of pride puffed up in those black bodies, in those gifted minds.

It was very important to me to send this message to my classmates because they had pretended that we had not been present for school for the previous four years.

The second obstacle, I did not foresee. The racial blowback from white students was fierce. They called for White Power Day rallies and intimated that a cross-burning would occur at Harold Harvey’s house later that evening.

The administration, both the major in charge of the military science program and the school principal, threatened to hold me responsible for any fights that broke out that day.

“Are you kidding me,” was the incredulous look on my face. I told them both in separate meetings that we came dressed in our fine Sunday clothes and fighting was the last thing on our minds.

Also, instead of talking to me, they should be talking with the white kids, because our act of solidarity and display of pride for us and our people was not a threat to them or their way of life.

Perhaps, I was a little naive on that last point.

By 2:00 o’clock that afternoon, the coats started coming off and the ties were loosening at the collar, but the smiles – those priceless big boy smiles – I can still see the brothers beaming with pride.

Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist, the author of Paper puzzle and Justice in the Round, Easier to obtain Than to Maintain: The Globalization of Civil Rights by Charles Steele, Jr.; and the host of Beyond the Law with Harold Michael Harvey. He can be contacted at haroldmichaelharvey.com.

Black History Month More Than a Month

By Michael February 6, 2015 0

Black history is more than a month. Black history is made every month. There is hardly a day that goes by when some black person does not make history.

Prior to 1927 there was not any observance of black history, nor of the accomplishments of black people. There had always been historical markers made by black people that changed the course of human history. Those events were usually whitewashed leaving the public to think that only white people had contributed to the development of civilization.

As a result of the absence of recognition, Dr. Carter G. Woodson, a historian, began to observe the second week in the month of February, as Negro History week. Since the American society was segregated in those days, Negro History Week, as it was called then, did not create a stir in the white community. Outside of the Negro community, few knew that the observance was taking place.

My mom is a big proponent of Negro History. She made sure there were books and pamphlets around the house that talked about the achievements of Negroes. Sometime around the 30th anniversary of Woodson’s inaugural observance, I participated in my first Negro History Week assembly program in elementary school. I was called upon to portray George Washington Carver.

Fifteen years later, I was a student at Tuskegee Institute. I found a learning haven during lunch time in the George Washington Carver Museum. Daily, I marveled at Carver’s genius.

In 1970, there was a push by black students at Kent State University to observe Negro history for a month rather than the traditional week that Woodson set up. Also, there was a push to change the name to Black History. This push was fueled by the militancy of the emerging Black Power movement of the late 1960s led by Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Toure) and Charles V. Hamilton.

As is the case with most traditions, the Negro intelligentsia was reluctant to move beyond the week observance. And many did not feel it necessary or appropriate to be called black rather than Negro. In 1976 President Gerald Ford proclaimed February as Black History Month.

Just as the movement for a month long observance and name change was gaining traction, grass root members of the Negro community sought to link their American history with the African history of their descendants, thus, African American History Month was born. The term African American did not take off until Rev. Jesse Jackson ran for President in 1988.

Black History Month or African American History Month can be observed for a whole year if African Americans want it to be. It is strictly an observance established by and primarily participated in by the black community, President Ford’s proclamation notwithstanding.

However, the observance of Black History Month may be in jeopardy. Just last month the principal of the Howard University Elementary School fired several black teachers who insisted upon teaching black history. The school is located on the campus of historic Howard University, one of the nation’s oldest universities established specifically to educate descendants of former enslaved Africans in America.

Several years ago, the actor Morgan Freeman, stated he opposed the continued observance because there is no month set aside for white history, as if the white writers of history have a need to further dramatize their dominance of the historical narrative.

If Carter G. Woodson was alive today, he would probably warn:

“If a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated.”

Long live the observance of black history and long live black people’s desire for equality in pursuit of the American dream.

Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist, the author of Paper puzzle and Justice in the Round. He can be contacted at haroldmichaelharvey.com.