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Archive for January, 2009

from Christina Laun and Ralph W. Conner

Starting in 1926 and expanded in 1976 to cover the whole month of February, time has been set aside to celebrate the lives and achievements of great African-Americans. Whether you want to educate children about important figures in the past or just learn a little more about a person whose life has inspired you, there are a number of great resources available to you on the Web. We’ve collected a few of them here to help you learn, celebrate and remember the contributions of African-Americans to our nation.(Christina Laun)

How Should Americans Celebrate Black History Month in February 2009?

I have selected 20 of the 100 websites compiled by Christina Laun
(http://www.bachelorsdegreeonline.com/blog/2009/100-great-sites-to-celebrate-black-history-month/ ) to highlight the 2009 Black History Month Celebration.

There are many aspects of Black History witnessed in 2008 which make this Obama Era an historical milestone for decades to come. The excitement and black pride attendant to the election of the first African-American USA president is a source of wonderment internationally. But let us not lose sight of the many challenges confronting the African-American community as we enter the end of the decade and prepare for the statistics in the 2010 U.S. Census.

Black (African-American) History Month:
February 2009

To commemorate and celebrate the contributions to our nation made by people of African descent, American historian Carter G. Woodson established Black History Week. The first celebration occurred on Feb. 12, 1926. For many years, the second week of February was set aside for this celebration to coincide with the birthdays of abolitionist/editor Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. In 1976, as part of the nation’s bicentennial, the week was expanded into Black History Month.

This year, President Barack H. Obama will proclaim February as National African-American History Month.

Black Population:

40.7 million
As of July 1, 2007, the estimated population of black residents in the United States, including those of more than one race. They made up 13.5 percent of the total U.S. population. This figure represents an increase of more than half a million residents from one year earlier.
Source: Population estimates <http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/population/011910.html&gt;

65.7 million
The projected black population of the United States (including those of more than one race) for July 1, 2050. On that date, according to the projection, blacks would constitute 15 percent of the nation’s total population.
Source: Population projections <http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/population/012496.html&gt;

18
Number of states with an estimated black population on July 1, 2007, of at least 1 million. New York, with 3.5 million, led the way. The 17 other states on the list were Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.
Source: Population estimates <http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/population/011910.html&gt;

38%
Percentage of Mississippi’s population that is black, highest of any state. Blacks also make up more than a quarter of the population in Louisiana (32 percent), Georgia (31 percent), Maryland (30 percent), South Carolina (29 percent) and Alabama (27 percent). They comprise 56 percent of the population in the District of Columbia.
Source: Population estimates <http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/population/011910.html&gt;

84,000
The increase in Georgia’s black population between July 1, 2006, and July 1, 2007, which led all states. Texas (62,000), Florida (48,000) and North Carolina (45,000) also recorded large increases.
Source: Population estimates <http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/population/011910.html&gt;

24
Number of states or equivalents in which blacks are the largest minority group. These include Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin. (Note: Minorities are part of a group other than single-race non-Hispanic white.)
Source: Population estimates <http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/population/011910.html&gt;

1.4 million
The number of blacks in Cook County, Ill., as of July 1, 2007, which led the nation’s counties in the number of people of this racial category. Orleans Parish, La., had the largest numerical increase in the black population between July 1, 2006, and July 1, 2007 (20,800). Neighboring St. Bernard Parish had the largest percent increase over the period (97 percent).
Source: Population estimates <http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/population/012463.html&gt;

Among counties with total populations of at least 10,000, Claiborne County, Miss., had the largest percent of population that was black (84.5 percent). Claiborne led 82 majority-black counties or equivalents, all but one of which (St. Louis city, Mo.) was in the South.
Source: Population estimates <http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/population/012463.html&gt;

(more…)

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The January 19, 2009 CORE Annual Birthday celebration of the Life of Martin Luther King Jr. will be a formal dinner event in New York likely to draw over one thousand attendees. Over forty years have passed since Dr. King showed Americans of all races that “everybody can be great, because everybody can serve!”

Dr. King was fond of reciting poet Douglas Mallock:

If you can’t be a pine on the top of the hill
be a shrub in the valley- but be
The best little shrub by the side of the hill,
Be a bush, if you can’t be a tree.

If you can’t be a highway just be a trail.

If you can’t be the Sun be a star;
It isn’t by size that you win or fail-
be the best of whatever you are !

In one of his last speeches at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Defined the level of service for all Americans who wanted to be great:

Dr. King intoned:

“Oh, I see, you want to be first. You want to be great. You want to be important. You want to be significant. Well, you ought to be. If you’re going to be my disciple, you must be.” But he reordered priorities. And he said, “Yes, don’t give up this instinct. It’s a good instinct if you use it right. (Yes) It’s a good instinct if you don’t distort it and pervert it. Don’t give it up. Keep feeling the need for being important. Keep feeling the need for being first. But I want you to be first in love. (Amen) I want you to be first in moral excellence. I want you to be first in generosity. That is what I want you to do.”

And he transformed the situation by giving a new definition of greatness. And you know how he said it? He said, “Now brethren, I can’t give you greatness. And really, I can’t make you first.” This is what Jesus said to James and John. “You must earn it. True greatness comes not by favoritism, but by fitness. And the right hand and the left are not mine to give, they belong to those who are prepared.” (Amen)

And so Jesus gave us a new norm of greatness. If you want to be important—wonderful. If you want to be recognized—wonderful. If you want to be great—wonderful. But recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. (Amen) That’s a new definition of greatness.

And this morning, the thing that I like about it: by giving that definition of greatness, it means that everybody can be great, (Everybody) because everybody can serve. (Amen) You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. (All right) You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s theory of relativity to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. (Amen) You only need a heart full of grace, (Yes, sir, Amen) a soul generated by love. (Yes) And you can be that servant.

I know a man—and I just want to talk about him a minute, and maybe you will discover who I’m talking about as I go down the way (Yeah) because he was a great one. And he just went about serving. He was born in an obscure village, (Yes, sir) the child of a poor peasant woman. And then he grew up in still another obscure village, where he worked as a carpenter until he was thirty years old. (Amen) Then for three years, he just got on his feet, and he was an itinerant preacher. And he went about doing some things. He didn’t have much. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family. (Yes) He never owned a house. He never went to college. He never visited a big city. He never went two hundred miles from where he was born. He did none of the usual things that the world would associate with greatness. He had no credentials but himself.

He was only thirty-three when the tide of public opinion turned against him. They called him a rabble-rouser. They called him a troublemaker. They said he was an agitator. (Glory to God) He practiced civil disobedience; he broke injunctions. And so he was turned over to his enemies and went through the mockery of a trial. And the irony of it all is that his friends turned him over to them. (Amen) One of his closest friends denied him. Another of his friends turned him over to his enemies. And while he was dying, the people who killed him gambled for his clothing, the only possession that he had in the world. (Lord help him) When he was dead he was buried in a borrowed tomb, through the pity of a friend.

Nineteen centuries have come and gone and today he stands as the most influential figure that ever entered human history. All of the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned put together (Yes) have not affected the life of man on this earth (Amen) as much as that one solitary life. His name may be a familiar one. (Jesus) But today I can hear them talking about him. Every now and then somebody says, “He’s King of Kings.” (Yes) And again I can hear somebody saying, “He’s Lord of Lords.” Somewhere else I can hear somebody saying, “In Christ there is no East nor West.” (Yes) And then they go on and talk about, “In Him there’s no North and South, but one great Fellowship of Love throughout the whole wide world.” He didn’t have anything. (Amen) He just went around serving and doing good.

This morning, you can be on his right hand and his left hand if you serve. (Amen) It’s the only way in.(finis)

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In the same sermon known as “The Drum Major Instinct” , Dr. King offered the content for his own eulogy for consideration:

Dr. King preached:

Every now and then I guess we all think realistically (Yes, sir) about that day when we will be victimized with what is life’s final common denominator—that something that we call death. We all think about it. And every now and then I think about my own death and I think about my own funeral. And I don’t think of it in a morbid sense. And every now and then I ask myself, “What is it that I would want said?” And I leave the word to you this morning.

If any of you are around when I have to meet my day, I don’t want a long funeral. And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy, tell them not to talk too long. (Yes) And every now and then I wonder what I want them to say. Tell them not to mention that I have a Nobel Peace Prize—that isn’t important. Tell them not to mention that I have three or four hundred other awards—that’s not important. Tell them not to mention where I went to school. (Yes)

I’d like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to give his life serving others. (Yes)

I’d like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to love somebody.

I want you to say that day that I tried to be right on the war question. (Amen)

I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry. (Yes)

And I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked. (Yes)

I want you to say on that day that I did try in my life to visit those who were in prison. (Lord)

I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity. (Yes)

Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. (Amen) Say that I was a drum major for peace. (Yes) I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter. (Yes) I won’t have any money to leave behind. I won’t have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind. (Amen) And that’s all I want to say.

If I can help somebody as I pass along,

If I can cheer somebody with a word or song,

If I can show somebody he’s traveling wrong,

Then my living will not be in vain.

If I can do my duty as a Christian ought,

If I can bring salvation to a world once wrought,

If I can spread the message as the master taught,

Then my living will not be in vain.

Yes, Jesus, I want to be on your right or your left side, (Yes) not for any selfish reason. I want to be on your right or your left side, not in terms of some political kingdom or ambition. But I just want to be there in love and in justice and in truth and in commitment to others, so that we can make of this old world a new world. (Finis)
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As Christians, Muslims, Jews, Catholics, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists, or agnostics the voice of Dr. King is summoning us over four decades of selfless service and sacrifice to BECOME the servant of the downtrodden on this January 19, 2009.

CORE-Chicago Joins Communities Nationwide in calling for all individuals to give something back withing their own communities. Sacrifice time, in-kind volunteer services, and money to make enhance the quality of the lives of the less fortunate for ONE DAY in 2009:

Make it a Day On… Not a Day Off!

During the 1950s and ’60s, civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. recognized the power of service to strengthen communities and achieve common goals.

Initiated by Congress in 1994, King Day of Service builds on that legacy by transforming the federal holiday honoring Dr. King into a national day of community service grounded in his teachings of nonviolence and social justice. The aim is to make the holiday a day ON, where people of all ages and backgrounds come together to improve lives, bridge social barriers, and move our nation closer to the “Beloved Community” that Dr. King envisioned. With thousands of projects planned across the country, the 2009 King Day of Service on January 19 promises to be the biggest and best ever!

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