By Quinton R. Arthur
A century of culture and diversity was celebrated this year. The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) celebrated its centennial on the week of September 8 .
ASALH was founded by Dr. Carter G. Woodson in 1915, in an attempt to recognize the contributions, lifestyles and accomplishments of African Americans.
The week was introduced with a plaque ceremony, dedicated to the original branch of ASALH. The ceremony took place at the Wabash YMCA, located at 3763 S. Wabash Ave. This is the same location where Woodson founded the organization before he went to receive his PhD at Harvard University.
The national president of ASALH, Daryl Michael Scott, attended the event and gave a brief speech about the importance of the event.
“The nation is nothing within this organization,” said Scott. “If there aren’t strong branches everywhere Black people are.
An organization that played a crucial role in the celebration is the Black Chicago History Forum. The Black Chicago History Forum was established in January 2014 and will commence its research in June 2016. It is a project that will look into the history of African-American literature, journalism, scholarship, and visual arts in Chicago between 1890 and 1930.
To accomplish this goal, the BCH Forum will connect familial, social, and institutional affiliations throughout Chicago. Essential to the missions of ASALH and the Black Chicago History Forum are the St. Clair Drake Center of Roosevelt University and leading researcher, Professor Christopher Reed.
“The rigorous intellectual environment at Roosevelt,” said Reed “Combined with the purposeful mission of ASALH pushed us where we are today.”
Roosevelt University alumni have played a crucial role in the history of ASALH. The Negro History Club was started 1965 at Roosevelt University, 50 years after the founding of the organization. The students became alumni and went to obtain PhDs from various universities across the nation.
A notable Roosevelt Alumni who is still involved with the organization are Darlene Clark Hine, who started the first PhD program for Black History at Northwestern University.
Lionel Kimble, president of the Chicago branch, left the crowd with inspiring words.
“Outside of churches and Greek-lettered organizations, there are not many organizations that stand the test of time,” said Kimble. “But here we are, a historical society, still standing.”
Dr. Carter G. Woodson, known as the father of Black History, introduced Negro Achievement week, which expanded into Black History Month.