Black History Month started with the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) founded by Carter G. Woodson, and Jesse E. Moorland, in 1915. Woodson formed ASNLH after attending a national celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of emancipation where he and others displayed exhibits focused on Black achievements since slavery. It was at this event that Woodson saw the need to ensure that the information about Black American’s achievements were more widely known. He went on to publish these findings in the Journal of Negro History, started in 1916. Then in 1920 he urged black civic organizations to promote the achievements of Blacks. In 1924, his fraternity, Omega Psi Phi, created the Negro History and Literature Week later renamed Negro Achievement Week. In February 1926, Woodson announced Negro History Week. 

February was chosen for practical reasons: it also encompassed the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln (12th) and Frederick Douglass (14th), which were already being celebrated. Thus, Woodson built Negro History Week around those days because it was easier to ask the public to just extend their study of black history versus creating a new tradition. Woodson was also well aware that no matter how great Lincoln was, he did not free the slaves, the Union Army, including hundreds of thousands of black soldiers and sailors, did that. Rather than focusing on two men, Woodson believed the black community should focus on the countless black men and women who had contributed to the advancement of human civilization.

His efforts were successful from the beginning. Negro History Week appeared across the country in schools and before the public. Woodson and the Association met the demand by setting a theme for the annual celebration, and provided study materials, pictures, lessons for teachers, plays for historical performances, and posters of important dates and people. With this free flow of information high schools in progressive communities formed Negro History Clubs and the ASNLH formed branchs across the country.  

In 1937, at the behest of Mary McLeod Bethune, Woodson established the Negro History Bulletin, which focused on the annual theme. As black populations grew, mayors issued Negro History Week proclamations, and in cities like Syracuse progressive whites joined Negro History Week with National Brotherhood Week.

Woodson never viewed black history as a one-week affair. He pressed for schools to use Negro History Week to demonstrate what students learned all year. Before his death in 1950, He spoke of a shift from Negro History Week to Negro History Year. These efforts began slowly even in the 1940s when in the South, black teachers often taught Negro History as a supplement to United States history. During the Civil Rights Movement in the South, the Freedom Schools incorporated black history into the curriculum to advance social change.

The 1960s had a dramatic effect on the study and celebration of black history. Before the decade was over, Negro History Week was well on its way to becoming Black History Month. The shift to a month-long celebration began as early as the 1940s, when blacks in West Virginia began to celebrate February as Negro History Month. In Chicago, a little known cultural activist, Fredrick H. Hammaurabi, started celebrating Negro History Month in the mid-1960s, by using his cultural center, the House of Knowledge, to fuse African consciousness with the study of the black past. By the late 1960s, blacks on college campuses began quickly replacing Negro History Week with Black History Month. Within the Association, younger intellectuals pushed change. In 1976, fifty years after the first celebration, the Association used its influence to shift from a week to Black History Month, which was officially recognized by President Gerald Ford. Since the mid-1970s, every American president, Democrat and Republican, has issued proclamations endorsing the Association’s annual theme. So, Happy Black History Month! This year’s theme is The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity

Political Economics

Over the last century, history has shown that the economy has grown significantly faster under Democratic presidents than Republican ones, measured by all major indicators: gross domestic product, employment, incomes, productivity, and stock prices. According to the New York Times, since 1993, under Democratic presidents the economy has grown an annual average rate of 4.6% compared to 2.4% under Republicans. Economists believe part of this difference is the coincidence of taking office during a downturn or boom. But coincidence does not explain everything. 

So why the difference? According to David Leonhardt’s op-ed in the New York Times,

“ Democrats have been more willing to heed economic and historical lessons about what policies actually strengthen the economy, while Republicans have often clung to theories that they want to believe — like the supposedly magical power of tax cuts and deregulation. Democrats, in short, have been more pragmatic.” 

Democratic pragmatism goes back to Franklin D. Roosevelt. When he first ran for president, in 1932, he did not have a clear economic plan. He basically had a trial and error program. But over time he talked with advisors and they went with the ideas of John Maynar Kenyes which promoted that in an “economic downturn, when companies and households are caught in a vicious cycle of spending reductions, the government needs to step in.” This Keynesian approach has been followed by Democrats since. 

This approach has made Democratic presidents more aggressive in responding to crises than Republicans. For example, Hoover was passive following the Great Depression and H.W. Bush was slow to react in the 1990-91 recession. While Obama and now, Biden have been bolder in their actions. Support for this type of pragmatism is confirmed when Republican presidents, Eisenhower and Nixon used similar approaches the economy rose. And when H.W. Bush increased taxes to reduce the deficit, the outcome was a boom. 

Despite these examples, Republicans have overwhelmingly had the same economic policy for the last 40 years: tax cuts that benefit the rich. Which does not help.  Need more evidence?  The Trump tax cuts had a modest effect on the economy and G.D.P. grew at essentially the same rate after them. In addition, Trump is the only President since Hoover to have negative job growth.  

Moral of the story: Democratic economic policies are not bad. Raising taxes is not inherently bad. If it’s jobs that are a concern, salary raises, and G.D.P growth, then look more closely at Democratic economic plans and Biden’s pandemic relief plan. 

A Win for the Environment

Yesterday, a federal judge vacated the Trump administration rule limiting which scientific studies the Environmental Protection Agency could use in crafting public health protections. This overturns one of the last actions Trump took while in office. The ruling was a victory for environmental groups and public health advocates.

Two weeks before Biden’s inauguration, EPA finalized a rule requiring researchers to disclose the raw data involved in their public health studies before the agency could rely on their conclusions. This rule was designed to assign less weight to studies based on human data, like medical histories and other confidential information that is not disclosed in a study. So, studies about exposure to harmful substances, could no longer be used to justify EPA regulations.

This recent decision, however, struck that down, and this came after a federal court struck down a 2019 rule that eased restrictions on power plants’ carbon emissions. These two decisions will help move along Biden’s environmental plans.

Google’s Human Resource Problems Continue 

Google has agreed to pay $2.5 million to more than 5,500 employees and job applicants impacted by alleged systematic pay and hiring discrimination. The Dept. of Labor found that female software engineers were paid less than men and that hiring rate differences disadvantaged female and Asian applicants. This is all about Google engineering positions. Part of the settlement includes back pay for the 2, 565 female engineers and payments to female and Asian engineering applicants. Employees at the Google offices in Mountain View, Seattle, and Kirkland, Washington were affected. Google will also make pay-equity adjustments for a total of $3.8 million.

Georgia, You’re hot and you’re cold

Georgia is a contradiction; as a newly blue states it is also the first state to introduce a bill to blatantly curtail mail in ballots. Georgia wants to cure a non-existent problem. Senate Bill 29, would create a photo ID requirement for voting outside of polling places in Georgia. Voters would need to submit a photocopy of their ID both when applying for absentee ballots and when returning them. This is being introduced despite no evidence of fraud or abuse using the mail in ballot system. So, why do you need these regulations and extra steps to voting? To stop Democrats and black voters from voting. 

“By requiring access to a printer, which many Georgians obviously do not have, Republicans are attempting to purposely take away the ability of many Georgians to vote by mail simply because they believe too many Democrats and too many people of color voted by mail,”

Fair Fight spokesman Seth Bringman


Russia.The first publicly available test results for Russia’s already widely distributed vaccine, Sputnik V, show 91.6 percent effectiveness against the coronavirus, according to peer-reviewed results published in the British medical journal the Lancet.

U.S. The rate of new coronavirus infections is declining after rapid increases over the holiday season. The seven-day average of new U.S. cases was down 13 percent as of Tuesday. Deaths, however, increased across by 2 percent, according to data tracked by The Washington Post.

U.S. Some grocery chains are offering small cash bonuses and other incentives to encourage employees to get the coronavirus vaccine. Dollar General, Trader Joe’s, Aldi and Lidl, as well as Instacart, have announced plans to promote the vaccine among employees, including flexible work schedules, paid time off to visit a vaccination site and bonuses of up to $200. Additionally, Chobani is one of the few food processors to announce a vaccine incentive. The company is offering its 2,200 workers up to six hours of paid time off to the vaccine. This is not yet, however, wide spread. The Post reached out to 85 major employers and only half responded; only two said they had current plans to compensate workers. Let’s hope this catches on.