2015: Centennial Celebrations for ASALH and NACA

2015 ASALH Centennial Year

A century ago, a self-educated former coal miner and the son of former slaves launched a publication entitled the Journal of Negro History. It was a radical move for the time, and one that would literally change the course of history--and the course of History, as a discipline. That visionary author, publisher and scholar was Dr. Carter G. Woodson, born in Virginia in 1875, who, despite entering secondary school at age 20, became the second African American to earn a PhD from Harvard University (the first being W.E.B. Dubois). 

Woodson's proposition that not only did Negro Americans have a history--a radical idea in the early days of the twentieth century, a time in which the gains of Reconstruction had faded, proponents of "separate but equal" were consolidating their hold on public and private economic and social interactions between people of different races, and racial violence was on the upswing---but that encouraging them to study their own history was a key weapon in the battle against racism and disenfranchisement in America, would eventually take root as Negro History Week, the predecessor to today's Black History Month. 
 
The organization that he founded to execute his mission of studying and disseminating knowledge of the contributions of African Americans to the world, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, is a vibrant national organization carrying out its founder's legacy though a commitment to scholarship and events that address the most pertinent issues in the now well-established field of African American studies.
 
This year, as ASALH celebrates its centennial, so too is America's space agency: NASA, which trace its roots back to the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). Like Carter G. Woodson, the NACA, with its original laboratory located in Hampton, Virginia, could be considered a native Virginian. Through the histories of the pioneering African American women who worked at the Langley laboratory and other NASA installations beginning in World War II (and thanks to the support of the ASALH Hampton Roads Chapter and the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, the founding sponsors of The Human Computer Project), we can trace the connections between the greater participation of African Americans and women in American society, and the upheavals that characterized what came to be known as "The American Century": World Wars I and II, The Cold War, the Space Race, and the rise of aeronautics and computer technology. 
 
Over the course of the year, we'll be posting articles, photos and links that take a closer look at the centennials of ASALH and the NACA, and we'll profile the people who connect the dots between the two. 
 
 
 
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