Here’s a general word of advice for the businesses and government agencies that seem to need it: pick someone black to honor when the goal is a public nod to Black History Month. The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) faced well-earned backlash after posting photos of a man in an Abraham Lincoln costume on Wednesday. The tweet invoked Black History Month, according to the Chicago Tribune. “In honor of Black History Month, Abraham Lincoln was seen making a guest appearance on the CTA,” the transit agency reportedly said in a since-deleted tweet.
“CTA’s social media game is usually on-point, but someone who had the keys to their Twitter account yesterday was truly clueless,” transportation journalist John Greenfield tweeted. Attorney Exavier Pope simply concluded on Twitter: “Diversity in leadership matters.”
CTA’s social media game is usually on-point, but someone who had the keys to their Twitter account yesterday was truly clueless. They tweeted that a Lincoln impersonator visiting the ‘L’ on Lincoln’s Birthday was there “in honor of Black History Month.”https://t.co/fMAWwN1t9D pic.twitter.com/Qg76QAZKSa
— John Greenfield (@greenfieldjohn) February 13, 2020
Although Lincoln, born on Feb. 12, 1809, signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, which was intended to free slaves in the Confederate states, the message didn’t trickle down to hundreds of thousands of slaves until June 19, 1865, when Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger made the announcement in Galveston, Texas. “Abe’s true feelings about the Negro not being equally intelligent & ending slavery so that the South can’t be a drain on the Ind Rev of the North; CTA could choose differently,” Twitter user @MFEnriqueBK tweeted. “Granville T. Woods who invented the Railroad Coupler would make too much sense for Black History Month.”
To be fair, the Chicago Transit Authority didn’t begin and end its Black History Month recognitions with the poorly executed tweet. It has shared several other social media posts recognizing the achievements of black people such as Mary Wallace, who became the first woman to drive a CTA bus in 1974, according to the transit authority. Of the tweet in question, the transit agency tweeted Wednesday: “Apologies, unfortunately our last retweet went in a direction that was not at all intended. Nonetheless, we WILL continue to honor the African Americans who have played a large role in CTA history.”
For Black History Month, weÃ¢Â�Â�re proud to salute Ã¢Â�Â�CTA Pioneers.Ã¢Â�Â� This is Mary Wallace, who, in 1974, became the first woman to drive a CTA bus. The Englewood native remained on the job for 33 years before retiring. pic.twitter.com/xGMZztKGl9
— cta (@cta) February 7, 2020
That’s more respect than Wisconsin Republican state Rep. Scott Allen gave black people when he defended his asinine decision late last year to recognize 10 Wisconsin honorees, most of whom were white, and who helped slaves escape between 1842 and 1861. “As we approach February, which has historically been recognized nation-wide as Black History Month,” Allen said in a memo the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel obtained, “we should all recognize the importance of highlighting the history of black Americans in a way that raises the prominence of that part of our mutual history so that it is the center of our attention.”
Vice President Mike Pence similarly decided a white person was more worthy of a Black History Month honor than actual black people on Feb. 1, 2017. “As #BlackHistoryMonth begins, we remember when Pres. Lincoln submitted the 13th Amendment, ending slavery, to the states #NationalFreedomDay,” Pence tweeted. Black filmmaker Ava DuVernay and countless others were quick to at least try to educate the man, which often proves to be a pointless feat.
Maybe remember when ACTUAL BLACK PEOPLE did stuff? Besides Ben Carson + Omarosa of course. And um, about the 13th amendment… oh nevermind. https://t.co/dIPV6YAeS4
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) February 2, 2017
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