Black History has been officially recognized in week then month form since 1927. **Dr. Carter Godwin Woodson fathered the event to introduce to Black Americans, and to all Americans, the contributions made by important men and women who were NOT included in standardized educational textbooks.
Unfortunately, precious little was done to add Black history to textbooks of high-school aged children or younger until at least the 70's and even into the 80's. I saw near nothing in my textbooks until I was well into college. I had positive role models throughout my childhood and consider myself lucky to have been raised without prejudice and without hatred.
My parents' friends and business associates were of all nationalities and orientations so I saw everyone in my parents realm (and their realm being mine) as a smaller version of what I thought the larger world offered, it seemed positive proof that we were all essentially the same with some intriguing differences that I thought were cool but never weird or frightening.
It never once occurred to me to think in collective terms or to make generalities regarding race or gender and I never felt that others around me made them either.
Part of that thinking and feeling I owe to my parents and their friends (poor, wealthy; hippie, conservative; black, white or anything in between; gay or straight), part of that to the era in which I spent my most influential years, Santa Barbara (again...70's, hippies, artists, etc., etc.), and part of that to two "Big Sisters" one white and one black.
Black History Month is a valuable asset for adults and children alike to become aware of, be re-introduced to, continue education in, our cultural/ideological differences and to remind us of our diverse forefathers and history.
This introduction may seem a tad serious considering the upcoming content but it was my way of having people understand that I do not take the following lightly by any means and that I hope to highlight the achievements, academic or otherwise, of Black actors associated with the Star Wars saga in any of the genres. Like any cross-section of people their credits and accomplishments vary significantly but I feel each one is as important as the other. The way I feel about all the actors in my database.
Each Friday (sorry a little late, working) for the month of February I will spotlight a set of Black actors, chosen alphabetically, and elaborate on their history, if known. There are 21 that I am personally aware of, if there are others (some people have so little info that there's no way to make any association based on color alone), if I make any exclusions it is not for lack of effort. Please make me aware of anyone that I have missed.
February 4, 2006
David Alan Grier
February 10, 2006
James Earl Jones
Samuel L Jackson
February 17, 2006
Kevin Michael Richardson
February 24, 2006
Roger Guenveur Smith
Billy Dee Williams
Precious few relative to the enormity of the database, which nears 1000, but here none-the-less.
**Dr. Woodson was an accomplished man with a heavy focus on Black history. Between they years of 1895 and 1922 Dr. Woodson attended the following schools: Berea College (KY-Bachelor of Literature), Lincoln University (PA), University of Chicago (IL), the Sorbonne (Paris, FR), returned to U of Chicago for graduate school receiving his MA and BA between March and August of the same year and Harvard University (MA-Ph.D in History).
He was a teacher and dean at several schools, high school and college, including dean at Howard University.
(source: Chicago Public Library)