So much of the African-American experience and point-of-view has been left out of our historical narratives until very, very recently, that I'm sometimes tempted to look at Black History Month as a bit of a joke.
The shortest month of the year — that's it?
Today my job was to preview Black History Month 2018 before the Greater Kansas City Broadcasters at their quarterly meeting.
Of course, I want to honor Dr. Carter Woodson and all the others who created this annual observation a century ago. It was a brave thing to do in the teeth of "Birth of the Nation" and the second coming of the KKK.
But as I told the group today, “speaking as a professional history nerd, every month is Black History Month.”
For those of you reading this in Kansas City, these are the highlights I noted today. There's much more, including film screenings and art exhibits, at VisitKC.
The Mid-Continent Public Library is hosting park rangers from one of the National Park Service's historical treasures, the George Washington Carver National Monument in southwest Missouri. They'll be doing seven programs — four for grown-ups, three for kids — Feb. 21-23 at six branches of the MCPL. They call Dr. Carver "America's Leonardo da Vinci" and it's hard to argue with that. The Carver National Monument is one of the top 15 sites in our Big Divide Travel Guide, and an ideal road trip visit.
NYU professor, musician, and screenwriter Michael Dinwiddie gives the 17th annual Spencer Cave Lecture at the American Jazz Museum. He's going to profile James Reese Europe (seen in photo at top), the black bandleader who during World War I introduced Europeans to the new sound called jazz. The talk will include a live band performing some of Europe's tunes. The talk is 7 p.m. on Feb. 26 and is free with an RSVP.
And coming up in April, a very important conference on our region's most fragile and precious historic treasure, the old Quindaro neighborhood. With backing from Freedom's Frontier National Heritage Area and other partners, the Quindaro Symposium "Strength in Numbers" (April 19-21) promises to break new ground in understanding and appreciating the multi-racial legacy of this community that made so much history before, during, and after the Civil War.