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    A Black History Lesson for Trump

    02.09.17 FINAL_COVER

    A Black History Month Lesson in the Wake of Douglass-gate

    Our President raised more than eyebrows trying to talk about Black history at this year’s National Prayer Breakfast.

    “Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I noticed,” Trump said.

    The remark prompted several publications to ponder if Trump even knows who Douglass (1818–1895) was—or “is”—since the President used present tense in speaking of him, and prompted Douglass’ descendants to send The White House a list of the social reformer’s accomplishments:

    “Frederick Douglass has done an amazing job …

    • Enduring the inhumanity of slavery after being born heir to anguish and exploitation but still managing to become a force for solace and liberty when America needed it most,
    • Recognizing that knowledge was his pathway to freedom at such a tender age,
    • Teaching himself to read and write and becoming one of the country’s most eloquent spokespersons,
    • Standing up to his overseer to say that ‘I am a man!’
    • Risking life and limb by escaping the abhorrent institution,
    • Composing the Narrative of his life and helping to expose slavery for the crime against humankind that it is,
    • Persuading the American public and Abraham Lincoln that we are all equal and deserving of the right to live free,
    • Establishing the North Star newspaper when there was very little in the way of navigation or hope for the millions of enslaved persons,
    • Supporting the rights of women when few men of such importance endeavored to do so,
    • Arguing against unfair U.S. immigration restrictions,
    • Understanding that racism in America is part of our ‘diseased imagination,’
    • Recruiting his sons—who were born free—to fight in the war to end the enslavement of other African Americans,
    • Being appointed the first black U.S. Marshal by President Rutherford B. Hayes,
    • Being appointed U.S. Minister to Haiti by President Benjamin Harrison,
    • Serving as a compelling role model for all Americans for nearly two centuries.”

    Trump’s Douglass-gate moment caused members of the San Francisco Bay Times team to wonder if the White House might need a lesson on Black LGBT pioneers. Limiting our list to those who have passed on, we offer just some of the many talented individuals whose work made a positive difference in their respective fields, and whose achievements continue to inspire us.

    Black History Month 02
    Alvin Ailey, Dancer and Choreographer (1931–1989)
    Josephine Baker, Dancer, Singer, Actress (1906–1975)
    James Baldwin, Author (1924–1987)
    Richmond Barthé, Sculptor (1901–1989)
    Lorraine Hansberry, Writer and Activist (1930–1965)
    Essex Hemphill, Poet and AIDS Activist (1957–1995)
    Billie Holiday, Jazz Singer (1915–1959)
    Langston Hughes, Author (1902–1967)
    Alberta Hunter, Blues Singer, Songwriter, Nurse (1895–1984)
    Marsha P. Johnson, Leader of the Stonewall Riots, Transgender Advocate (1944–1992)
    Barbara Jordan, Politician, Civil Rights Leader (1936–1996)
    Audre Lorde, Author, Advocate (1934–1992)Willi Ninja, Ball Culture Dancer and Choreographer (1961–2006)
    Ma Rainey, Blues Singer (1886–1939)
    Bayard Rustin, Advisor to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1912–1987)
    Margaret Sloan-Hunter, Writer and Activist (1947–2004)
    Bessie Smith, Jazz and Blues Singer (1894–1937)
    Billy Strayhorn, Musician and Activist (1915–1967)

    The list could go well beyond the pages of this newspaper, so we invite you to explore online resources such as:

    http://www.glaad.org/publications/blackhistorymonthkit

    http://www.glsen.org/article/black-history-month

    http://www.lambdaarchives.us/videos/black_gay_history.htm

    http://bayardrustincoalition.com/

    http://alp.org/