(188373)
Janice Temple (188374)

February is Black History Month. This is a recognition that has been around since 1926, when it was created as Negro History Week by Carter G. Woodson. It has changed over the years from a week to a whole month dedicated to Black history. But even that may change. Critics on both the left and the right have called Black History into question. Conservatives, like FOX News contributor Stacey Dash, have said that Black History month promotes segregation. On the other hand, some Black historians have said that Black history should not be confined to one month and would be better integrated into American history in general.

Tu’Nook, a retired educator who now works as a writer and stage play producer, says she has watched Black History change over the years. Tu’Nook’s production company, Theatre Perception Consortium, produced a play about civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer, called “Sick and Tired: (The Freedom of Fannie Lou Hamer.)” Tu’Nook, who grew up in the segregated South, said she noticed that families were not teaching their children about Black history. She feels Black parents need to do a better job of teaching their children about their own culture.

“It needs to be taught at home,” Tu’Nook said. “We’re the first teachers. Our culture and history should be taught in the home, like other cultures, for example, the Jewish people.”

When Tu’Nook worked as a elementary school teacher and a multi-cultural coordinator, she tried to introduce the contributions of Black people into classroom lessons and not just confine it to the month of February.

“I don’t think that Black history should be limited to one month,” she said.

Tu’Nook has also noticed that technology, especially the Internet, has changed how information is shared. Now people can find out about the contributions Blacks have made to world history. People can also find out information that is excluded from text books.

“Technology will allow this to come forward more than the history books,” Tu’Nook said.

Tu’Nook has also found people are researching historical events and finding Black people have been deliberately omitted. One example of this is the liberation of France during World War II. North and West African soldiers played a significant role in military operations during that time period, but according to the BBC, they were deliberately omitted from the photographs which show White soldiers marching down the streets of Paris. (This story is told in the 2006 French film “Days of Glory,” which documents the experiences of North African soldiers fighting to liberate France.)

Tu’Nook said this exclusion is often done for calculated reasons.

“I find that White people put out information that they want to make them look good,” she said. “They do not want to give us the credit.”

Janice Temple, founder and CEO of World Black History On Periscope, is using the live streaming phone app to tell Black history. Periscope currently has about 10 million users and has featured more than 100 million broadcasts since January. Temple is an international traveler who has lived in five different countries and traveled to 20 nations in search of Black history and jazz.

“Our goal is to connect the stories of the African diaspora in our own voices,” said Temple, a former flight attendant. “We are making history as innovators using Periscope to share Black history worldwide. Black History Month is celebrated in February in the U.S, Canada and Nigeria. However, the United Kingdom celebrates Black History Month in October. We are connecting and uniting in conversations on Periscope. It will continue to grow bringing all of our stories together.”

Periscope basically allows anyone with a smartphone to create and broadcast their own TV show.

“Black historians can each have their own live stream TV channel to broadcast regularly scheduled programming and build a following of a loyal audience,” explained Temple. “Black historians can share the latest research and findings, collaborate live with other historians worldwide. Black historians can also share their latest publications, articles, books, and videos on YouTube, and upcoming appearances.”

Temple has live streamed several events herself including a broadcast from the National Park Service African American Historic site and shared the history of the Boston Black Heritage Trail in front of the Boston African American History Museum. Her broadcast from the National Park Service African American Historic Site was the first Black History Periscope.

Temple believes that technologies like Periscope will allow more people to tell their own historical stories. She adds that as more people start to tell their own stories, it’s going to force many beliefs, which were formerly considered to be true, to change. For example, many people believe that most cowboys were White, which is opposite of the truth.

“Many people have not traveled or studied the history of other cultures. The Black history that they share is not necessarily true. There are so many ‘ism’ or sayings in the Black Community. Some Black history beliefs are based on philosophies, for example: Moors, Muslim, Christian, agnostic, and atheist. Some Black history groups use the pain of slavery and oppression to convert people to their belief system. We foresee the facts being agreed upon by scientists and historians. We seek healing in our truth.”

Nicole Henderson, owner of Selsi Enterprises, an Atlanta-based communications company, says new technologies, like Periscope, are taking history out of textbooks.

“I foresee historians leaning on live streaming platforms to tell the history that is not in the history books,” Henderson said. “The project that Janice has pulled together is an example of what will continue to be done. Many in the group want to see this go on year round. By using the platform Katch.me, you are able to create what is called collections. Historians can use these collections to categorize their ‘scopes’ indefinitely.”

She added that many teachers are using new technology aids to enhance their lessons.

“Instructors used to be so reliant on textbooks that were generally written by Whites. America and that is no longer the case,” Henderson said. “I am seeing teachers use everything from YouTube to apps like Periscope. As we were growing up, I feel like we were confined to what was written in those textbooks to shape our impressions of our history. I now feel that our kids have access to so much more about our history than has ever before been possible.”

However, Temple says she is not ready to do away with Black History month, because she believes it’s still a much-needed way of honoring Black culture.

“There will always be a need for Black History Month,” she said. “It is a celebration of our culture. We may arrive at a day when we know the full truth of our history, but that does not mean we should stop celebrating who we are as a people. Many Periscopers believe in expanding beyond Black History Month into daily celebration all year long.”

Henderson also thinks Black History Month is still needed.

“We still have more years of truly needing Black History Month,” she said. “I feel like we will always need this time to celebrate our culture. Four hundred years of slavery has had a huge effect on our culture, and I think that we are a long way from not needing this time to highlight what contribution our ancestors have made to society. I also feel like those that are currently making Black history are not receiving their full recognition for the strides that they are making. For this reason, we will need to continue to highlight our culture.”

According to Henderson, Black History Month is still a proud moment for the African American community.

“I feel like we will see an even more proud Black America, as we are able to learn more about our history and the shoulders of those that we stand on,” Henderson said. “Here in Atlanta, I hear discussions about more support of Black-owned businesses, creating a stronger Black economy, keeping our dollars in our own community longer than we do. I feel like the success of Black History Month will lend itself to a stronger Black community globally.”

According to Temple, Black History Periscope is planning a meetup when the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture opens in Washington, D.C. The museum will be another important repository of Black history.

The Smithsonian Black history museum, expected to open Sept. 24, is an example of how extensive Black history centers will be in the future. It contains more than history books. According to “60 Minutes,” the museum will include everything from Muhammad Ali’s boxing gloves to a plane flown by the Tuskegee Airmen. It will also feature a 1920s segregated train boxcar and a guard tower from the notorious Angola prison in Louisiana.

“This is not the museum of tragedy. It is not the museum of difficult moments. It is the museum that says, ‘Here is a balanced history of America that allows us to cry and smile,’” said founding director Lonnie Bunch.