This supplement marks the seventh annual Black History issue to appear in The Baltimore Sun. This year's theme is preserving African-American culture, and precedes the celebrations that begin throughout the country tomorrow. In Maryland, activities commemorating black history will include African dancing, music, exhibits, movies and lectures. Joining in these celebrations will be the Baltimore Art Museum, the Walters Art Gallery, churches, colleges, schools, community organizations, fraternities and sororities.
Why celebrate African-American culture? I offer this explanation. These celebrations are a way of acknowledging the history of a race which for so long went unwritten, untold and uncelebrated. While some black people arrived in America free, most came as slaves from Africa, where they had enjoyed a culture rich with distinction.
They were not allowed to practice their culture in this country, nor were they taught to read and write in the language of the country that would become their home. They were considered property and not people. Much of their heritage was lost, and continues to be rediscovered today.
We celebrate black history because the fight for acceptance continues today. While legislation has sought to equalize the rights of the races, the battle against prejudice and discriminatory practices is still being waged.
The celebration of black history is also an opportunity to remind America of the contributions made by black people to the growth, development and defense of this nation. And the celebrations are a reminder that in spite of slavery, African-Americans became inventors, scientists, doctors, lawyers and leaders who made contributions that helped shape this nation.
In this issue, we talk with Mayor Kurt Schmoke about his roots. We also interview the head of the University of Maryland's Afro-American Studies Department about goals and objectives. We tell you about former congressman Parren J. Mitchell's archives at Morgan State University and Coppin State College.
We also explain the meaning of two materials of African origin being worn today, and where they can be found locally.
The Baltimore Sun, beginning tomorrow and continuing through the end of February, will make certain facts about the black experience and history available on its Sundial system, facts which I have compiled over the last seven years.
At no cost, you can dial a number and code and hear a set of black facts. You will learn everything from who was the first black family to settle in Maryland, to who was the first black elected official in Maryland. The number to call is 783-1800, Ext. 5400.