Athens’ Black History Revealed in Film | Connect


Where was Africa Street? Why was the Albany Enterprise Academy important to the owners of Southern Plantation? Who did General Armstrong Custer’s wife, Libby, come to see in Athens? Where did President Franklin D. Roosevelt stop to rest and dine during HIS visit to Athens? Why did many slaves heading to Canada along the Ohio River choose to settle in Athens? Which women marched with the Reverend Martin Luther King?

These and other questions are answered in “Episode 1 of Athens Black Wall Street” and “Two Legacy Women of Southeast Ohio” on Saturday, February 26 at the Athena Theater at 7 p.m. Funded by the Appalachian Community Central Seed Learning Project and the Foundation for the African-American Community of Appalachia in Ohio, the revealing documentary of “…Wall Street” is the result of research implemented by the committee history of the preservation of Mount Zion Baptist Church. OU Professor Emeritus Vibert Cambridge chairs the group and OU School of Film alumni Yaphet Jackman, and Kingsley Lims Nyarco communicates the research findings in an engaging and compelling docuseries.

Liz Pahl, a musician, filmmaker and administrator from Ohio, also contributes to the historical enrichment of the evening in the cinematic profiles of two living legends in her series “Legacy of Southeast Ohio Women”. Both women have dedicated their lives to seeking answers to questions of freedom, achievement, recognition and equality through community action, activism, social justice and civil rights. One is an educator, the other a collector and repository of facts about the region. Why seek answers or delve into the past? The answer to this one is simple.

As the men said, “Those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it.” Another: “If you don’t know the story, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that does not know that it is part of a tree.

As the Association of African American Life and History has chronicled, the relevance of black history in February dates back to 1926, when Harvard University graduate Dr. Carter G. Woodson first created times “Black History Week” during the second week of February. And why this week? Because it includes the birthdays of two men who embraced American symbols of freedom: Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas.

ASALH also notes that the first official celebration was recognized in February 1976, by President Gerald Ford. He created Black History Month by declaring, “In the bicentennial year of our independence, we can look back in awe at the awe-inspiring contributions of [Black] Americans to our national life….[T]To help shine a light on these accomplishments, Dr. Carter G. Woodson founded the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. We are grateful to him today for his initiative, and we are richer for the work of his organization.

Ten years later, in 1986, which was also the first year in which Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday was celebrated as a national holiday, the United States Congress, in a joint resolution of the House and Senate, designated the February as “National Black History Month.” The resolution authorized and directed President Ronald Reagan to issue a proclamation in compliance. In 1986, Presidential Proclamation 5443 noted that “the primary purpose of Black History Month is to bring awareness to all Americans in this fight for freedom and equal opportunity.”

After learning the answer to the historical Athens questions offered earlier here, everyone is invited to celebrate local pride this Saturday, February 26, in front of the Athena Cinema in the OU Film School where the Multicultural Center and the Black Student Programming Council. will be your host.

Communication/Media Director

Mount Zion Baptist Church Preservation Society

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