Celebrating Black History Month By Honoring Famous Leaders

Black History Month: Honoring And Celebrating 10 Influential Leaders

The leaders we wish we were and how they contributed to the history of America.

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February is a big month. Besides it being the month for Valentines and being the shortest in the amount of days, February is most recognized for Black History Month. During this time, it is important to remember important events and people who have contributed to African American history. Numerous African Americans have contributed to society, whether it be the arts, politics, or entertainment field, there is something to note. Here are a list of ten of some of the most influential leaders that should be honored for Black History Month:

1. Sojourner Truth

After escaping from her slave master in 1826, Sojourner Truth became free and become a famous abolitionist. In 1844 Sojourner joined a Massachusetts abolitionist organization called the Northampton Association Education and Industry. Sojourner was a speaker, and her most famous speech was "Ain't I a Woman" advocating on equality which she gave in Akron on 1851 at the Ohio Women's Rights Convention.

2. James Baldwin

American novelist James Baldwin tackles issues on race, class, and sex distinction in order to show people how unjust society is. James was born in Harlem on August 2nd, 1924. His text "Go Tell it on the Mountain' was his most infamous novel published in 1953.

3. Oprah Winfrey

"The Oprah Winfrey Show" was the highest rated television program and aired from 1986-2011. As a talk show host, she filmed her show in Chicago. Her life started rough when she was born into a family of poverty, but made it out to become the first African American multi-billionaire in North America. She is known as the most influential person in the world.

4. Harriet Tubman

Harriet managed to escape slavery from the south and was important in helping other African Americans escape from slavery through the Underground Railroad. With her bravery, she managed to rescue hundreds of slaves to freedom during the 1850's.

5. Barack Obama

America elected its first African American president in the 2008 election and he ended his term in 2016. One legacy Obama left is the affordable health care plan called Obama Care. Before his time in the White House, he served as a senator for Illinois from 2005-2008.

6. Chuck Berry

American singer Chuck Berry was known for his contribution in the rock and roll genre in the 1950's. Some of his famous songs include "Maybellene" and "Roll over Beethoven." Guitar solos and showmanships is what Berry is known for in his music.

7. Rosa Parks

After refusing to give up a seat for a white passenger in a bus in Montgomery in 1955, Rosa was put in jail. This incident known as the Montgomery bus boycott and let the world know how African Americans were not treated equally with the 'Jim Crow' laws.

8. Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes is best known as a leader in the Harlem Renaissance which was a period in the 1920's when African American culture was making its ways to the midwest and the north. His poetry and novels influenced the masses. His poem "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" became one of his most well known poems.

9. Maya Angelou

Civil rights activist and novelist Maya Angelou became famous through her seven autobiographies revealing her childhood and the struggles of being an African American. Her first autobiography titled 'Why The Caged Birds Sing' is the most famous and is read as a way to show African American's daily struggles.

10. Martin Luther King 

Martin Luther King became an influental Civil Rights leader by advocating for peace and love rather than violence. His famous speech titled 'I Have A Dream' continues to inspire many individuals which and was delivered in 1963 at the March of Washington.

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6 Facts From '13th' That Will Hurt To Read

I've said it once and I'll say it again: Stand Your Ground is racist. Here's proof!
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13th is a documentary from Ava Duvernary (known for directing 'Selma,' the movie about the march by MLK), and it tracks the history from the introduction of the 13th amendment, which states that no one can be owned by another person, to present day with the lens of the rights of black people. It is tied directly into the Black Lives Matter movement and explains how ingrained institutionalized racism has become. It also explains how this all came to be in a riveting, non-scholarly manner. However, the facts presented will shock you, they will horrify you, and if you're like me, they will rip a hole in your heart.

1. The United States has 5% of the world's population and 25% of the world's prison population.

That makes it the highest incarceration rate in the world. 40% of those inmates are black people, and no, that doesn't mean that white people make up the other 60%. Here's another interesting statistic tied into this: If African Americans and Hispanics were arrested at the same rate as whites, the prison population would decrease by nearly 40%.

2. The "exception clause" in the 13th Amendment was there to rebuild the South's economy - through prison slave labor.

After the Civil War, African Americans were arrested in massive groups, often for minor crimes, in order to fill the hole in the South's economy after slavery was abolished. This is the verified reason this clause was included.

3. Birth of a Nation was responsible for the return of the Ku Klux Klan.

The film was incredibly racist and began to introduce the idea that black men were criminals and that the Ku Klux Klan was reborn after their depiction in this film. This film also introduced the KKK ritual of burning crosses, in case you ever wondered where that came from.

4. 1 in 17 white males will go to jail/prison in their lifetime, while for black males the odds are 1 in 3.

Racists will argue that it's because blacks are more violent and therefore more likely to commit crimes. First of all, that's ridiculous. Moreover, it's because black people are more likely to experience discrimination in all aspects of their life, which leads to lower incomes, making them more likely to live in underprivileged neighborhoods where people have to commit crimes to make ends meet. See how its all connected? That's institutionalized racism.

5. Mandatory minimums take discretion away from judges, in turn putting more people of color behind bars.

Mandatory minimums were introduced by Nixon, and they put minimums on time being served for certain crimes. As the exemption clause continued to round up people of color, the mandatory minimums took away the ability for the judge to make decisions on the circumstances of a crime. This means that people of color are sent to prison for years at a time for nonviolent and minor offenses.

6. Laws don't always have morally sound origins.

13th delves into the involvement of ALEC in the formation of laws, and ALEC is corporately backed by massive companies like Walmart (the largest retailer of guns in the United States). I mention Walmart and guns because ALEC is the organization which pushed for the Stand Your Ground Law, which is what was used to justify Trayvon Martin's murder in court. George Zimmerman walked after murdering an unarmed black boy because of a law that was pushed by Walmart to increase the sale of guns.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Dear Marvel, You Really Need TO Do Better With Representation

This is simply a poor attempt at more diversity.

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SPOILER WARNING: This article contains spoilers for the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Avengers "Endgame" hit theaters and shattered records across the world with making an amazing $350 million in North America and an even more stunning $1.2 billion worldwide. In fact, 'Endgame' has already destroyed records set back "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," "Avatar," and even the first part of the movie, 'Infinity War.' Fans went in expecting a mix of emotions and for the most part, the movie definitely delivered. However, there is one thing that some fans are severely disappointed in.

Directors like the Russo Brothers hyped up an "exclusive gay character" and "Marvel's first openly gay character" in the 22 movie franchise. But fans weren't happy with what they received after all of this hype beforehand. While representation is representation sometimes it's simply not good enough. In this movie, Steve Rogers (Captain America) goes to a counseling group with others to deal with such a huge loss in their world and lives. This is where we meet the "exclusive" gay character, who barely even has a name. He's an unnoticeable character if you're not paying attention, has no relevance to the plot, and doesn't make any kind of difference in the movie at all. He talks about how he finally went out on a date, with a guy, and how eventually they both cry while reflecting on their lives after the snap. While they call this "exclusive," we call this pretty close to queerbaiting.

Making a big deal over a background character and parading him around for his sexuality isn't what we would call representation. While it's always cool to see an LGBTQ character on the screen in such a huge series, this character is still just a minor character and has no relevance and is literally never seen again. He is on screen for less than five minutes before we never see this character again. This is what you call representation? A minor background character with no importance whatsoever? No thanks!

What we are looking for is at least someone that has something to do with the plot, not just there to say they've done it and market to the LGBTQ community. Marvel needs to do better when it comes to this. Their big deal over a minor character lost our respect more than it gained because this excitement was only a money grab more than an actual attempt at diversity. When we have characters like Valkyrie, who is Bisexual in the comics, we want to see more major characters gain this diversity. Even Captain Marvel actress Brie Larson agrees, "we gotta move faster" as no person should be excluded from being a superhero for any reason, even sexual orientation.

So Marvel, while you're here breaking box office records, don't forget to do better at giving the LGBTQ community the representation they deserve, and the representation we all want! And until you do, we'll just be here looking over Brie Larson's and Bev Johnson's support of Captain Marvel and Valkyrie!

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