In today’s light-speed short-attention span culture it becomes paramount to take time to reflect on the past and honor those who played a role in our success and the success of our nation. Remembering the past and paying homage to our forebears is the hallmark of a civilized society in many ways. For Black Americans, this means celebrating legacies often obscured by history’s tragedies.  February is Black History Month and for many it means a month of paying our respects to African American heroes, writers, activists and artists from many different eras. For former Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief, Black History Month is a chance to reflect on her cultural heritage while embracing the present and celebrating the artworks and artifacts of African Americans.

Barbara Sharief’s Interview

A work from the collection of Barbara Sharief

Recently the Broward County Commissioner was featured on Channel 4, CBS Miami in an interview where she introduced audiences to her collection of African American art. Among the prized works are pottery made by slaves who used their works to secretly celebrate weddings and parties that were forbidden to them at the time. Other works in Barbara Sharief’s collection include paintings depicting slave families and shackles worn by children.

About her collection the former Broward County Mayor states:

“I believe collecting these works is about remembering the past and learning from our ancestors. It is very difficult for African Americans to trace their family roots since few written records were kept and many families were destroyed by the separation of brothers from sisters and husbands from wives. I got the collecting bug from my grandmother. She was a great historian.” 

Barbara Sharief is an accomplished entrepreneur, mother and political leader whose tenure as Broward County’s Mayor was exceptionally popular thanks to her emphasis on staying connected to her community and for providing mature, calm and competent leadership for one of the nation’s most prosperous and diverse counties in times of crisis. Her leadership as the voice and the face of Broward County during Hurricane Irma and after the shootings at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport was praised by media entities, other politicians and people from all political spectrums, leading to speculation concerning future runs for higher office.

Black History Month’s Origins and Dr. Carter G. Woodson

Dr. Carter G. Woodson

Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the 19th century historian and man of letters is considered the godfather of Black History Month thanks to his influential words and ideas about celebrating African American Culture. He founded Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) in the early part of the twentieth century to create an organization that was focused on the celebration of African American history and culture. His research on American and African American history is indelible and a big reason why Black History month is celebrated today.

In 1976, as part of the nation’s Bicentennial celebrations, President Gerald Ford officially proclaimed Black History Month. In doing so he was proclaiming the imperative of all Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

Every state in the union now recognized Black History Month as both a cultural and historical celebration of African American life.