Black History Month is Back!

Posted: February 13, 2007 in Uncategorized

The second month of the year is mostly celebrated with valentines, presidents, Mardi Gras, and groundhogs. True. But February is also shortened by 28 days (sometimes 29 counting leap years) and celebration historical contributions to African Americans. In 1926, there was a new concept on celebrating the negro race in one week. But forty years later, that week has grown into one month which we know today. When I think about black history, I think about Harriett Tubman, Malcolm X, MLK, Coretta Scott King, Jesse Jackson, James Brown, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Sojouner Truth, Black Panther Party, Dr. Charles Drew, and even yes, Old School Hip Hop and Rap Artists.

What are my favorite black history moments? First I’ll review Sports/Entertainment, or wrestling. Around 1992, I was still watching the WWE, but hardly I was "scanning" WCW. In that year an all-american named Ron Simmons, was in a title match with wrestler Big Van Vader. He was chosen by a raffle in which took place after Jake "The Snake" Roberts injured Sting. Ron Simmons defeated Vader and became the WCW Heavyweight Champion. It was also the first time that an African American wrestler became champion in Wrestling’s history. Fast forward to 1996. The King Of The Ring was a lone PPV, and here in Milwaukee I saw Stone Cold winning and unveiling "Austin 3:16". But also, wrestler Anthony Norris, or Ahmed Johnson defeated Goldust to win the WWE Intercontinential Championship. The WWE had it’s first black IC Champion, and I was there to witness it. In 1997 Jacquine faced Sable to battle for the WWE Women’s Championship on RAW. During the turabouts, she was awarded a trophy for the victory, and then the following week, she awarded the Women’s Title. Also, this marks the first time an African American Female winning the belt. Jacquline also became the first African American Female to win the WWE Cruiserweight Title later on in her career. Around 2000, Booker T was gaining stature as a singles wrestler. During that time WCW was facing racial discrimination lawsuits, and Hulk Hogan was dismissed by Vince Russo (whom earlier was working for WWE). The WCW World Title was declared non-vacant and the Jeff Jarrett/Booker T match up was coming up. At WCW’s Bash at the Beach PPV history was made again as Booker T became the second African-American wrestler to win the strap. He also became the first win it 5 times. In 2006, ECW returned as the third brand for the WWE. On December 3rd, 2006  Bobby Lashley was traded to the brand from SmackDown! to take part in the Extreme Elimination Chamber for the ECW World Title. The final stage of the bout came to Bobby Lashley and the Big Show. After an impressive spear manuver by Lashley, he pinned the Big Show to become ECW World Champion. It was also a first, because Bobby Lashley became the first African American Wrestler to win the strap. For the Tag Team Division: Tony Atlas and Rocky Johnson made history. In 1983, they were in a match against the Wild Samonans (Afa and Sika Anoai). After the turnabouts in the match, Atlas/Johnson became the first black WWE Tag Team Champions in wrestling history.

 For entertainment, this can be referred to artists and entertainers who paved the way for those who are keeping the game going. There were artists/entertainers who could not perform because of skin color. Take for example, Marian Anderson there was a time when she could not sing at the Constitution Hall in DC because she was black. Remember Eartha Kitt?  Her role on Batman didn’t last long because of black skin. Hattie McDowell, who was one of the first black woman to receive an oscar, sat in the back because of skin color. I think that history teaches us that the key fault of this was skin color. James Brown once said "Say it Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud!" It was his way of saying that, you can be proud of your black skin, and accomplish anything you want in life. There will be those who will continue to drown it out, but we should always continue to remember that there were solutions in the process to help heal it. So I think that the cycle of opportunity for blacks are revolving.  On a side note, when MTV was about 4 years old, you could get it, but there was one problem: no Michael Jackson. The king of pop significantly was the first black artist that changed the landscape of music videos on the channel, and Thriller was a prime example.  So, that was like Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in 1947 in baseball. Run-DMC were the first black Rap Stars to be featured on Rolling Stone Magazine at the peak of their career, and they were the first to mold Rock and Rap music together (ala Walk This Way/Aerosmith). Other Rap Metal artists should be credit Run-DMC for doing this.

Sports has always have similariities with African Americans. Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Carl Lewis, Magic Johnson, Reggie White, Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlin, who once scored 100 points in a single game. Also Jackie Joiner-Kersee, Florence Griffth-Joiner, Venus and Serena, and many others that had helped or are helping to pave the way. My moments you ask?, in the winter of 2002, Vonetta Flowers and Jill Bakken were in the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, and they were in the final round of a gold medal. With in minutes, Vonetta and Jill became gold medalists. Also this also marked history when Vonetta became the first African American Woman to get a gold medal. Last year in 2006, a speedskated named Shani Davis became the first Afircan American Man to win the gold medal in speedskating, despite of the critics he was facing. Most recently, SuperBowl 41 has ended and Tony Dungy became the first African-American Coach to win a SuperBowl, and he and Lovie Smith became the first black coaches to compete in Superbowl history. Several superbowls ago, a former quarterback, Doug Williams won a superbowl and became the first black quarterback to win it, and became MVP.

There are many, many, many moments in Black History. For me, in May of 2006 I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stout with a B.S. Degree in Industrial Management. But here’s the kicker! I used the art of Distance Education of Online classes and Interactive TV to complete the degree. Others thought that I had to go on campus and not work in Milwaukee. Boy they were wrong! I stood up to the haters and doubters and completed the degree within 4 years. And I think I am the first black male in my family that completed the degree in this fashion. So, that part of me rests on my most black history moment.

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