Black History Month

WXXI celebrates Black History month and the unique contributions African Americans have made to Rochester area as well as the nation overall.

February is Black History Month, and there are a number of local endeavors to help educate the general public about the achievements of African Americans and important events from history.

We hear about some of those, and discuss how to improve how African American history is taught in schools. In studio:

  • Tianna Manon, editor-in-chief of Open Mic Rochester, and freelance reporter for WXXI News
  • Lesli Myers-Small, Ed.D., superintendent of the Brockport Central School District
  • Jason Willis, Ph.D., director of African-American studies at the Rochester City School District
  • Chris Thompson, comedian, engineer, and activist

The Little Theatre is getting ready to show a powerful film called I Am Not Your Negro. Here's how the filmmakers describe it:

"In 1979, James Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing his new endeavor: the writing of his final book, Remember This House, recounting the lives and successive assassinations of his friends Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Baldwin was not able to complete the book before his death, and the unfinished manuscript was entrusted to director Raoul Peck. Built exclusively around Baldwin's words, Peck's I Am Not Your Negro delves into the complex legacy of three lives (and deaths) that permanently marked the American social and political landscape. Framing the unfinished work as a radical narration about race in America, Peck matches Baldwin's lyrical rhetoric with rich archival footage of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements, and connects these historical struggles for justice and equality to the present-day movements that have taken shape in response to the killings of young African-American men including Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Mike Brown, and Amir Brooks."

Our guests discuss the film, and this particular American moment. In studio:

  • Richard McCullough, meteorologist and president of the Rochester Association of Black Journalists
  • Dr. David Anderson, history re-enactor and community leader
  • Bri Merkel, artistic director for The Little Theatre

It seems President Trump does not know much, if anything, about Frederick Douglass. We have some questions.

First of all, African Americans have suffered erasure and exclusion in many ways; does the President's ignorance have an impact? Second, it's Frederick Douglass. What exactly are we teaching in schools, and what should we be teaching? How can Trump have such limited knowledge of Douglass? Third, Trump promised during the campaign to offer real outreach to communities of color. What would that look like, in practice?

Many Americans remain hopeful that Trump will bring positive changes. What could those be? Our guests:

Jenna Flanagan/WMHT/Innovation Trail

New York Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture mixed technology with activism to increase the searchable content on Wikipedia.

Billed as an Edit-a-Thon, the downstairs research room of the Harlem branch of the library filled up with people eager to learn how they can become a Wiki-Editor.

“There is a lack of people of color involved in creating for Wikipedia and as the subjects found in Wiki-Searches.”

Randy Gorbman / WXXI News

A longtime civil rights leader is bringing his message of non-violence to the Rochester area this week. The Reverend Bernard Lafayette spoke Monday afternoon at the Central Library.