ST. PETERSBURG – For the second year in a row Mayor Rick Kriseman raised the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American History Museum flag above City Hall Feb. 1 to kick off Black History Month and honor historian Dr. Woodson, founder of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALAH).
“St. Petersburg’s African-American community has a rich history,” Kriseman said, “and we are intent on teaching and honoring that history through many endeavors, including this one.”
Pointing out that there were members of the African American Muslim community on hand, the mayor said “we need to look after our Muslim brothers and sisters, now more than ever,” to applause.
To single out one religion is no better than singling out one race, one gender or one sexual orientation, he said.
Terri Lipsey Scott, chair of the museum, gave background on Woodson, who formed ASALAH in 1915 to promote the scientific study of black life and history. In 1920, Woodson, a graduate member of Omega Psi Phi, urged his fraternity brothers to “promote the achievements of the Negro,” she said, adding that they responded with the creation of Negro History and Literature Week.
“Today, members of the board of the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American History Museum are delighted to stand with members representing ASALAH and the Omega Psi Phi fraternity who continue to hold high the torch passed on by Dr. Woodson,” she said.
Since 1976 when President Gerald Ford proclaimed February as Black History Month, every president since has issued proclamations endorsing it, including Trump who used a Black History Month speech to talk about himself.
“In the City of St. Petersburg we are proud to live in a community where our request to preserve, present, interpret and celebrate African-American history is met with the favorable response of a mayor who has again agreed to historically fly over city hall a flag in honor of not only the father of black history, Dr. Carter G. Woodson, but Black History Month in total,” she stated.
The museum is embracing the 2017 Black History Month theme, she said, which focuses on the “crucial role of the education and the history of African Americans.
“The crisis in black education has grown significantly in urban neighborhoods,” she said, “where public schools lack resources, endure overcrowding, exhibit a racial achievement gap and confront policies that fail to deliver substantive opportunities.”
Some poorly performing schools serve as merely pipelines to prisons, she said, adding that addressing the crisis in black education should be considered one the most important goals in America.
Quoting the words of Woodson, Lipsey Scott said, “‘May the light of the countless African Americans who have paved the way for countless successes enjoyed in this great nation forever shine, forever shine, forever shine.’”