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Saturday, February 04, 2006

Black History Month and Star Wars

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
Obba Babatunde
Tace Bayliss
Ahmed Best
Tony Cox
Diahann Carroll
David Alan Grier

February 10, 2006
Nancy Giles
James Earl Jones
Samuel L Jackson
Taborah Johnson
Gervais Koffi

February 17, 2006
Phil LaMarr
Mary Oyaya
Quentin Pierre
Hugh Quarshie
Kevin Michael Richardson

February 24, 2006
Dave Sexton
Cree Summer
Roger Guenveur Smith
Femi Taylor
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)


Nerf-Herders Anonymous said...


date Posted: Feb 04, 2006 4:13 AM
Wow, I never really realised how many many black actors there were in Star Wars, i only thought about Samuel Jackson, Ahmed Best and Billy Dee Williams. Keep up the good work!

Nerf-Herders Anonymous said...

Son of a Bith
The Cantina Corner

date Posted: Feb 04, 2006 11:15 AM
David Alan Grier? Isn't he the funny guy that does the screaming? You know, he's the cop in Jumanji.

Life, the Star Wars Universe and Everything

date Posted: Feb 04, 2006 11:36 AM
"Wow, I never really realised how many many black actors there were in Star Wars, i only thought about Samuel Jackson, Ahmed Best and Billy Dee Williams. Keep up the good work!"
Yes, I know...more than we thought and I'm sure there are more. Thanks!

"David Alan Grier?"
Yep, he's got great comedic timing. Yes, I knew about Jumanji. I'm looking forward to highlighting him.