This year, I decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month for the first time. With Black History Month around the corner for many (it’s always black history for me), I am pushing to finish the first draft by February. Because it requires a lot of research, this is one of those books with a source page that will probably be thick enough for its own mini book. The discipline required to get this done made #NaNoWriMo more attractive this year to hold myself accountable.
My goal was to write every day and have 50K words down by the end of the month. Let’s see how I did.
Word Count as of 11/30/2021: 30,168. Chapters: 23 Pages: 113 Sources Page: 3,747 words, 15 pages
While I did not cross the 50K threshold, I am proud of making it this far because I wanted to get 25K down if I could not do the fifty.
I did not write every day. I spent days traveling, and even on returning, I did not get right back to writing immediately. The interesting thing is that I rested a lot, which helped me do more when I was writing. Taking days off actually helped, not hinder me. To quote the Nap Ministry on Twitter: “This idea that you gotta grind yourself into exhaustion and make work the center of your entire existence is not liberating.”
I found the word count ticker and badges (I won 7) on the website motivating. I would look at it and compete to see if I could beat the previous day’s count.
The most significant thing, though, has been ghosting social media for much of November. I am not a good multitasker. If I am to focus on completing something, I have to give it my full attention, and right now, that’s this black history book. I was not posting as much or blogging. I will probably continue being missing in action, except the remaining book review posts and NWW, until the draft is complete.
I’m not gonna lie; I looked at National Novel Writing Month sideways a couple of times. I didn’t think it was for me. I am not for the whole “write a book in ten or thirty days” kind of thing. And while it’s not something I would do every year, having participated, I can say that I enjoyed the push it has given me.
If there is one thing I would do differently, it would be to set my own word count goal and try to stick to writing a little every day instead of sitting at the computer for hours. That ain’t healthy.
Who else participated in NaNoWriMo? How was your experience?
Black History Fun Fact Friday returns next week with a brand new fun fact and our first special guest! Until then, I hope you enjoy this repost of how Black History Month got started.
Black History Month is around the corner. You know, the one time of the year that people are genuinely interested in Black History. Good thing you’ve got The PBS Blog, where we hit you up every week and all year round! Today, let us explore how Black History Month came to be.
Have you ever wondered why Black History Month is in February? You’ve heard it (or maybe even said it) “Why its gotta be the shortest month of the year tho?” Yea, that was you. It was me too. Before we get into that, let’s start from the beginning.
It starts with Dr. Carter G. Woodson, famous for his book The Mis-Education of the Negro, a book I highly recommend that you read (if you haven’t already).
Known as “The Father of Black History Month,” Carter was one of the first African Americans to receive a doctorate from Harvard and dedicated his career to the field of black history.
In 1915, Carter G. Woodson helped found the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (which later became the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History). The next year he established the Journal of Negro History and in 1921 formed the African-American-owned Associated Publishers Press. His goal was to center the contributions of African Americans. He wrote a dozen books, including but not limited to: A Century of Negro Migration (1918), The History of the Negro Church (1921), The Negro in Our History (1922) and The Mis-Education of the Negro (1933). The Mis-Education of the Negro is the most famous of these and is an often-recommended book by Historians and is also a book of study at Colleges. It centers on Black’s indoctrination into the American education system and touches on self-empowerment.
In 1926, Carter founded Black History Week. Black History Week eventually became Black History Month. It started as a program to encourage the study of Black History and was a week-long celebration in honor of Frederick Douglass (Born Feb. 14th) and Abraham Lincoln (Born Feb. 12th) and therefore Black History Month is in February.
Using Abraham Lincoln’s birthday is odd to me since Lincoln said that if he could have saved the Union without freeing any slaves he would have done it. Written during the Civil War, in one of Abraham Lincoln’s most famous letters to Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune, Lincoln wrote about his focus to save the union, not to free the enslaved. Written while the Emancipation lay in his desk, not yet proclaimed, this letter is where the infamous quote comes from:
“My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union.” – Abraham Lincoln, excerpt from
Letter addressed to Horace Greeley, Washington, August 22, 1862.
Source: The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, edited by Roy P. Basler
Learn more about Lincoln and the truth on his motifs concerning the freeing of the enslaved here.
In any event, in honor of these men, the program was held February of 1926 and was later expanded to an entire month as late as 1976.
And that, my people, is how Black History Month (the brief version) came to be.
Don’t Complain. Use What You Have.
I do not believe in colors. I believe in nations of people. I do not consider black and white to be nationalities set in motion by the creator but colors created by men. I believe that each human person belongs to a nation with land, laws, customs, and traditions to govern them. No one is black, white, or red. This doesn’t even make sense. Race was a concept developed by man to keep certain truths hidden and to promote racial superiority. Like you, I do not believe that Black History is something that should be assigned to one month, (for me it’s a way of life) let alone the shortest month, but I won’t complain about it. Instead, I’ll use it to further educate those whose eyes and ears are more open to hearing the truth. Every day is a chance to share Black history but instead of complaining about it is “the shortest month,” let us use February as an opportunity to awaken those who don’t know to the wide range of historical information that exists (but is largely left out of the textbooks) at a time where people are most interested to learn.
In the age of information where it is “cool to be conscious,” people aren’t as “woke” as they think they are. That said, if Black History Month is an opportunity for us to share knowledge and to introduce something to people at a time where they would pay attention, then we should do it. It has nothing to do with “celebrating black history month” but spreading the truth. If Black History Month helps people to understand who they are because their minds are open now, by all means, let us take advantage of it and stop complaining. Okay, so the month is short. That just means we better pack as much information into these 28 days as we can.
*Steps off soapbox*
And now, for my favorite Carter G. Woodson Quote:
“When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his “proper place” and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit. His education makes it necessary.”
– Dr. Carter G. Woodson, “The Miseducation of the Negro”
James Shober was an African American doctor and the first Black doctor in North Carolina. James was born on August 23, 1853, in what is now Winston-Salem, North Carolina. James father Francis Edwin was a white businessman and politician who served in the North Carolina state legislature and the United States Congress. His mother was an 18-year-old enslaved woman named Betsy Ann.
Betsy was of mixed race who lived in Salem and passed away in 1859 when Shober was between six and seven-years-old. He was sent back to the Waugh Plantation near Waughtown, North Carolina, where his grandmother lived with other family relatives.
Educated at Lincoln University in Oxford, Pennsylvania, Shober then enrolled in the Howard University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C. where he was one of the forty-eight graduates in 1878.
After graduation, he began practicing medicine in his home in Wilmington, then the state’s largest city. Shober was the only Black doctor in a city of more than 10,000. There were only a handful of licensed black doctors across the United States following the Civil War. Shober now joined those ranks in 1878 and became the first professionally trained Black physician in North Carolina.
On June 28, 1881, James married Anna Maria Taylor, an educator who taught at the Peabody School in Wilmington, and they became the parents of two daughters, Mary Louise and Emily Lillian. His daughters both graduated from Fisk University and pursued a number of professions. James Shober died young, at just 36 years-old on January 1, 1889.
Welcome Back everyone to another episode of Black History Fun Fact Friday! Where we present movies, products, books, audio, or article Fun Facts on a portion of the History of African American people. We cover all things Archeological, Biblical, Historical, and most importantly, Factual. Today marks our 4th week into the series and we’d like to celebrate our month in with an excellent documentary on the history of convict leasing, but first, a little History:
According to the 13th Amendment: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude,
except as punishment for crime
whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, nor any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
Convict leasing began in Alabama in 1846 and is recorded as lasting until July 1, 1928, however our past and present prison population speak a different language. Today, more than 60% of the people in prison are African American. For Black males in their thirties, 1 in every 10 is in prison or jail on any given day. Take a class filled with black boys and 1 in 3 has a likelihood of ending up in prison. It has gotten so bad that prisons now calculate the percentage of beds needed for cells based on whether or not black boys can read by the 4th grade.
In 1883, about 10 percent of Alabama’s total revenue was derived from convict leasing. In 1898, nearly 73 percent of total revenue came from this same source. Death rates among leased convicts were approximately 10 times higher than the death rates of prisoners in non-lease states. In 1873, for example, 25 percent of all black leased convicts died.
While most believe that the 13th Amendment abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, a loophole was opened that resulted in the widespread continuation of slavery in America–slavery as punishment for a crime.
Narrated by Lawrence Fishburne, learn from Historians and Scholars how the south reconstructed its means of financial stability after the end of the Civil War and the Emancipation of slaves:
Hello there loves, and welcome back to Black History Fun Fact Friday the one day we set-apart to highlight some of the most influential African American men and women of time.
Today’s Black History Fun Fact is the movie Panthers, the 1995 document of The Black Panther Party as narrated by Kadeem Hardison as Judge (based on the real life persona of Bobby Rush), and directed by Mario Van Peebles as adopted from his father Melvin Van Peebles. The film portrays the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (aka The Black Panthers) tracing the organization from its founding through its decline. I must admit I’m going out on a limb by recommending this movie. I may soon be deemed as a promoter of militant anti-government sentiment. However, that is the opposite of why I recommend you add this movie to your collection. For the record I’m not in the business of advocating for militant behavior.
I like this movie because it showcased a lot of The Panthers outreach programs: the food distributions, medical assistance, education, and variety of businesses. Mario Van Pebble’s Panther is one of my favorite movies for the same reason Malcolm X is one of my favorite movies, not because I’m Muslim, which I am not, but because of the passion for the uplifting of the black community and the way the actors seemed to literally cement themselves into the roles. I mean, Denzel Washington may as well have been Malcolm incarnate. It’s not everyday you get a bomb story, with truth, AND actors to play it to the letter. Movies like this are very inspiring to me and keep the fire I have to restore the forgotten heritage to the forgotten people going. Just watching it alone compels you to get off your butt and do something, feed the poor or tutor some children, anything to promote progression in your communities; fueled by the passion of the youth before you. Speaking of which, you can’t miss the cast in this one: From Angela Bassett, to Kadeem Hardison, Marcus Chong, Chris Rock, Tucker, the list goes on and on with A list actors and act they did. This film is a must see.
Thank you for stopping by and checking out this week’s episode of Black History Fun Facts! We’ll see ya next week.
In the meantime, go buy that movie 🙂
Today marks our 3rd week in this series so here’s a recap in case you missed it:
Today’s Post is part of a weekly series on The PBS Blog that will take place from now on through February: Black History Fun Facts. During this series, I will post some fun facts about a portion of African American History, ranging from Archaeological, Cultural, Biblical, and Historical facts every Friday.
I will also extend this open invitation to anyone who would like to take part in Black History Fun Facts. All you have to do is use the #BHFF badge in your post, tag Black History Fun Facts, and pingback. And of course, make sure your post is about something, well….Black.
My pick for today’s BHFF is Hair Story: Untangling the roots of Black Hair in America:
Hair style and texture has been just as life changing and connected to the Black experience as racism and discrimination. Every movement in the history of the so-called African American people has had its own hairstyle. From the Afros of the 60’s & 70’s to the Jehri Curl of the 80’s, you can guarantee to spark conversation whenever black hair is involved.
In Hair Story, authors Ayana D. Byrd, and Lori L. Thraps takes us through a chronological timeline of how Black hair has changed over the years. From Africa to present-day America, Hair Story is not just an exciting read but a great source of research. I enjoyed the blast from the past the ladies took us on and the pictures and hair recipes that complimented the document well. Every stage and every situation presented a physical manifestation of that era in the form of hair for Black people. While I do not agree with every account mentioned, Hair Story is definitely a book to have in your home library (you do have a library…right??).
In 2009 Chris Rock reanimated the Hair debate in his comedy release Good Hair. Premiering at the Sundance Film Festival on January 18, 2009, Good Hair was released to select theaters in the United States by Roadside Attractions. According to Rock, he was inspired to make the movie after his then 3-year-old daughter Lola asked him, “Daddy, how come I don’t have good hair?” She has curly, wiry hair typical of many people of African descent. He realized she had already absorbed the perception among some blacks that curly hair was not “good”. As a result, Rock delves into the $9 billion hair industry, and visits such places as beauty salons, barbershops, and hair styling conventions to explore popular approaches to styling. He visits scientific laboratories to learn the science behind chemical relaxers that straighten hair. It is from this documentary that I went forward to do my own research on Hair. Interestingly enough, it is the same year I went natural.
The only thing this film lost cool points for in my book is that there were so many valid points that seemed to have to be hidden under the concept of comedy in order to have it mentioned on air. It appeared to me, that if given the chance, Rock could have explored more deeply the state of Black Hair. It is for this reason that I went in depth on my very own research in order to discover the missing pieces. However, I’m not throwing any stones because what Chris Rock and HBO produced was sufficient enough to jump start anyone’s thirst for understanding of Black Hair and it is a movie worth having in your collection.
And who can’t forget Tyra Banks show on Good Hair?
Also inspired by Chris Rock, Tyra launched a show in May of 2009 that spoke about African American women’s hair. It featured a variety of women (some with permed hair some with natural hair) who engaged in hot debate over what is considered good hair and bad hair. Children of the women also got involved, turning it into an emotional roller coaster of history and identity.
And so do most of your favorite artist and sports players:
For me locs are much more than just a fad. They represent our culture. We have worn our hair in these styles for thousands of years. Amaziyah Locs- pronounced (Ah-ma-zi-yah) is a Hebrew name that means “Made Strong by Yah.” I knew that the meaning was perfect for a natural hair care company specializing in Locs. It immediately reminded me of the story of Samson and Delilah. Samson was granted super natural strength by Yah in order to wage war against his enemies, such as destroying an entire army with only the jawbone of a donkey! However, Samson had a weakness: his hair, and without it he was powerless. When they were cut by Delilah, he lost all of his strength. Makes you wonder why there is a barber shop on every corner in predominantly “African-American” communities.
My favorite is the Loc N Butter but Amaziyah’s got plenty of variety to go around. Get the Loc N Twist, Loc N Oil or Loc in Butter:
Why not close out with a little music? Here’s India Arie, I am Not My Hair: