Black history rock star teaches Fayetteville students
Posted February 28, 2014
Fayetteville, N.C. — For many students, learning about the accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans is akin to ancient history. But Black History Month comes alive for them when Nettie Washington Douglass steps into the classroom.
Douglass is the great-great-granddaughter of abolitionist Frederick Douglass and the great-granddaughter of educator Booker T. Washington, and she now heads an organization dedicated to educating people about human trafficking.
On Friday, she was at Ferguson-Easley Elementary School in Fayetteville to teach students about the origins of Black History Month.
In 1926, historian Carter Woodson started Negro History Week to celebrate the achievements of African-Americans, and the tribute later expanded into Black History Month.
"(February) was chosen because Frederick Douglass' birthday – the birthday that he chose for himself because he didn't know when his birthday was – was Valentine's Day because his grandmother used to call him her little valentine," Douglass said.
Woodson chose the second week of February for the celebration, she said, because President Abraham Lincoln's birthday is Feb. 12.
"We put focus on it, but it's actually American history," she said. "We are included. We should be in all of the history books as part of American history – the contributions being made by African-Americans – but clearly it is part of what makes up this great country."
Douglass carries with her a small replica of the 7-foot-tall bronze statue of her great-great-grandfather that stands in the U.S. Capitol. The statue was dedicated last year in Washington, D.C., on June 19, which is also known as Juneteenth, the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States.
She said she keeps her replica on her nightstand. "I say goodnight every night, and I say good morning," she said. "I hope he's saying, 'I'm really proud of you.'"