Spady Cultural Heritage Museum
By DR. TAMEKA BRADLEY HOBBS
A small but very significant historic institution in a small historic district of the historic city of Delray Beach will be both honoring and making history on Saturday, December 16, from 12 noon to 2 p.m. when the Spady Cultural Heritage Museum, 170 NW 5th Avenue, hosts a spirited grassroots celebration of the birthdate of remarkable scholar, educator, and activist Dr. Carter G. Woodson. The famous author of The Mis-Education of the Negro, who would become known as “The Father of Black History” will be honored because of his lifelong dedication to fostering knowledge and appreciation of Black achievements and contributions to the nation and the world including the establishment of Negro History Week, which would become Black History Month. He also co-founded in 1915 the venerable Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (now the Association for the study of African American Life and History, ASALH).
In a fitting tribute, Saturday’s celebration will combine fun and treats, including a scavenger hunt, party games, and children’s activities with knowledge sharing and a stimulating panel discussion of past and present challenges. Presented by the South Florida Branch of ASALH, it will feature Dr.Rudy Jean-Bart (historian), Dr.Alisha Winn (cultural anthropologist), Emmanuel George (community activist), and Jasmen Rogers of the Broward Black Lives Matter Alliance.
Woodson’s own inspiring achievements are best understood by appreciating the time and circumstances in which he lived and worked.
He was born in material poverty to formerly enslaved parents on December 19, 1875, in New Canton, Virginia, and performed various kinds of manual labor on farms and in coal mines, and as a garbage truck driver, but would also commit himself to his studies, at Berea High School and College in Kentucky, and would ultimately become only the second African American to earn a doctorate degree from Harvard University, after the legendary Dr.W.E.B. DuBois.
Woodson came of age in the era when White Supremacy, following decades of Post-Civil War anti-Black violence, murder, and terrorism, especially (but not exclusively) in the South, became triumphant, with the successful exclusion of African Americans from voting, and rampant propaganda demeaning and denying the accomplishments and even the very humanity of Black people. He lived in the era when monuments and namings of streets, schools, and other public properties in honor of Confederate heroes became rampant, as did lynchings and urban “race riots” to keep Negroes “in their place,” in the North as well as the South.
Much more importantly, this was also the era when African Americans, undaunted, served notice that “The New Negro has no fear,” and would give birth to such remarkable developments as the Anti-lynching movement largely led by journalist Ida B. Wells, the powerful Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) founded by Marcus Garvey, a disciple of Booker T.Washington, and the extraordinary blossoming of art, culture, and scholarship known as the Harlem Renaissance. In addition, there was the rise to prominence of such organizations as the NAACP and the National Urban League, among others, all of which encouraged, and were helped byWoodson.
Although this remarkable assertion of Black pride and courage was largely the result of the Great Migration of millions of African Americans from the rural South (and Klan violence) to opportunities in the urban North and Midwest, those who remained in the South continued to produce excellence, especially in the field of education, in segregated but highly competent schools and colleges.
A product of that era was the brilliant Solomon D. Spady, who came to Delray Beach in 1922 as the third African American public school principal/teacher assigned to that community, upon the recommendation of George Washington Carver, chemist, researcher and teacher at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.
His tenure lasted 35 years during which he became one of the most influential African Americans in Delray Beach, and his legacy is duly recognized and maintained at the Spady Cultural Heritage Museum, housed in his historic home. The institution has been instrumental in beautifying and enhancing the surrounding area with historical markers in a parklike atmosphere, making this a most appropriate location for this year’s celebration of Dr.Woodson’s 142nd birthday.
The event is free and open to the public. For further information, call 305-912-5332.