African American History
Robert B. Ingram, Ph.D.


Who would have thought that a young man, the youngest son of nine children born in New Canton, Virginia in 1875 to James Henry and Anne Eliza Woodson, struggling land-owning farmers who were previously slaves, would become the first African. American of slave parents to receive a Ph.D. in history. Not only that, he became the formulator of what we now call "African American History Month" moving from a hostage to a historian.


How did it all be/in? Well history suggest that while at Harvard, one of Carter G, Woodson's professors claimed the "Negro had no history", and challenged Woodson to research and prove the opposite. This ignited the fire that burned the desire so fierce in Woodson's heart that he would not stop until he saw to it that African-Americans finally had their rightful place in recorded American History. Dr. Woodson created the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, as an attempt to create an "historical alliance" that would collect, preserve historical sources, and create a "Journal of Negro History." Four months after the start of the Association, Woodson published the first issue of the "Journal of Negro History". His efforts did not stop there. He hired A.A. Taylor as his first research assistant, and went on to publish The Negro in Our History in 1922, which sold out within the year. The next edition was published the following year, which sold just as quickly, Woodson and Taylor also worked on data concerning free blacks in 1830 (Woodson felt that year to be their height as a distinct class in the South).

In 1925, Dr. Woodson began sending out pamphlets and brochures to schools, journals, black newspapers, and others emphasizing the importance of black achievements and contributions to the United States. Woodson suggested that a Negro History Week be celebrated, and suggested ways to do so. He also hoped that in addition to the pride that the week would instill, that the celebration might produce more funds for the Association and it's work.


Dr. Woodson was inducted as an honorary member of Omega Psi Phi, one of the oldest African-American fraternities. The Omegas celebrated African-American achievements on February 12th each year, chosen because of Abraham Lincoln's birthday. Woodson persuades the Omegas to let the Association sponsor a whole week. That week was chosen not only for Lincoln's birthday, but also for the birthday of Frederick Douglass. The success of the celebration was such that in June of that same year, Woodson received the prestigious Spingarn Medal from the NAACP for his achievements.


This celebration was (and still is) not meant only for African-Americans, but for other ethnic groups as well. The idea is to learn, and realize the vast contributions, achievements and phenomenal contributions by mighty African Americans that are woven into the fabric of this society.


In our review of Black history we find that in 1492 Pedro Alonzo Nino, the man who piloted the Santa Mafia was Black. Even though unnamed, Other Black sailors were said to be among the first explorers to the New World. Records indicate that Blacks accompanied Balboa, Ponce de Leon, Pizarro, and Menendez on their travels and explorations.

In 1525 Spanish explorer Panfilo de Narycz led 300 men on an iii-fated expedition to Florida. Among the force that landed in Florida on that April 12, date was Estevanico, making him the first known Black in Florida. Today Hispanics headline the Major League baseball but the first Hispanic ballplayers in the United States could only play in the Negro League and in the National Association circuit. A fact that has been largely ignored is that Negro League was considered a haven for Hispanic ball players. In the Negro League players were judged on performance not pedigree.


Performance is essential to an outstanding school system and among Miami's Black school system leaders are individuals like the Honorable William "Bill" Turner, Joyce Knox, Dr. Frederica Wilson and Dr. Solomon Stinson. The achievements and contributions of these outstanding individuals would probable go unnoticed but for a time set aside for the infinite and invaluable recognition by such African American advocates for quality education. Lectures, speeches, exhibits and other functions point out the fact that the Honorable William "Bill" Turner, who exited the Miami Dade County School System to distinguish himself as a Florida State Senator, (the Honorable Joyce Knox left the system and the State of Florida), the Honorable Dr. Frederica Wilson is on the right road and headed in the right direction as a Florida State Representative, and the Honorable Dr. Solomon Stinson whose seasoned approach continues to win out over ignorance and racism.


Dr. Solomon Stinson has to be singled out here because of his nearly half century of contributing to the uplift~ of our children. Dr. Stinson has served in virtually every aspect of our Miami Dade County Public Schools, from teacher to principal, to Deputy Superintendent, to an unprecedented three-time chairman of our Miami Dade County School Board. Truly Dr. Stinson is a dignified Role Model, a literal genius and master of his educational craft, In spite of the unimaginable indignities he suffered during the days of segregation and the initial stages of de-segregation Dr. Stinson persevered and is arguably one of the eminent champions of our children. Dr, Stinson fearlessly condemns all possible forms of racial discrimination and uncompromisingly demands full and equal opportunity for all people. His severe assertiveness makes him an often-challenged man. In spite of that, he uses his knowledge of our school system to ceaselessly promote education, civil rights, equal opportunity and harmonious race relations for the betterment of our students, Dr. Stinson wears his wisdom with grace and honor and continues to forge his legacy as a prominent member of our Miami Dade County School Board. So as we celebrate African American history month let us not neglect the uniqueness of people like Dr. Solomon Stinson whose unrelenting nature and devotion is credited with making Miami Dade County Schools a better place for all of our students.


To contact Dr. Ingram, please call 305-995-1340 or e-mail