Black History Month

African Americans and the vote

By Shakia Gullette

Historically, Black History Month encourages us all to reflect, recognize and re-engage with the historical legacy of those from our past and present.

Shakia Gullette
In 1915, Carter G. Woodson recognized that African Americans received little to no recognition in the history books – so he and Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (now the Association for the Study of African American Life and History). Today, ASLAH continues to be at the center of Black History Month celebrations that take place throughout the country, by creating annual themes.

This year’s theme is African Americans and the Vote, which addresses the duality of the Women’s Suffrage Movement and the Fifteenth Amendment. Additionally, the theme speaks to the ongoing struggle on the part of both black men and black women for the right to vote.  

The Missouri History Museum’s opening Black History Month program is titled “Unflinching: The Power of the African American Vote.”

This program explores the national theme set by ASLAH by inviting some of the region’s most thought-provoking political leaders and historians to discuss the importance of local issues including voter suppression, examination of the electoral process, and the passing of bills that directly impact our community.

Each of the panelists is well versed in the content area and brings varying perspectives to the discussion.

Devin Fergus
Wiley Price
Gena McClendon
Michael Jones
The panelists for the program are Michael Jones, a veteran Democrat who has played significant roles in St. Louis and St. Louis County government; Dr. Gena McClendon, director of the Voter Access and Engagement and the Financial Capability and Asset Building initiatives at the Center for Social Development at Washington University; Rep. Wiley Price IV, who represents the 84th district in the Missouri House of Representatives; and Dr. Devin Fergus, professor of history and black studies at the University of Missouri.

In addition to this opening lecture, at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 4, at the Missouri History Museum, a variety of engaging content that explores local community history, race and education will be available at the museum throughout the month.

On Feb. 9, the museum will welcome local documentarian Alana Marie for a screening of her film “The Kinloch Doc: The Story of Missouri’s First Black City.” On Feb. 11, Dr. Chauncey Granger will join us for an intimate conversation that celebrates the lives of local trailblazers in education.

The Missouri History Museum’s Black History Month programming offers events for all ages, including our Parent and Me series, “Polkadots: The Cool Kids Musical,” and All Aboard the Admiral.

For more information on the complete list of programs for Black History Month 2020, please visit our website at 

– Shakia Gullette is Director of African American History Initiatives for the Missouri Historical Society

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