A Haiku for Black History Month

What began in 1926 as the brainchild of Carter G. Woodson’s Negro History Week, Black History Month was decreed a national observance in 1976 by then President Gerald Ford to honor and celebrate the many accomplishments and contributions of Black Americans throughout our history.  It was not lost on its tireless proponents that Black History Month be celebrated in February – the month in which two of the most iconic figures in the history of slavery in our country were born: Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.

Although he settled in Rochester in 1847, Frederick Douglass made several trips to Syracuse between 1840 and 1870.  In August of 1850, he lectured on the evils of slavery during a stop at Syracuse City Hall — he was on his way to nearby Cazenovia for the Fugitive Slave Law Convention which he helped organize.  More information about his travels through Syracuse, as well as a look at a rare daguerreotype of Mr. Douglass during this time, can be found at the Onondaga Historical Association on Montgomery Street, Syracuse.

From our 2008 Series, our featured haiku poster is a fitting tribute to Frederick Douglass and Black History Month here at Syracuse Poster Project.  With Bryan Wilbur’s fine haiku as its centerpiece, the wonderful depiction of Frederick Douglass was illustrated by artist, David Hicock, a Syracuse University Instructor of Film in the Department of Transmedia and owner of Animotion, Inc.

Frederick Douglass / spoke as cheering thousands sang / under this same sky

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Hope you’ve enjoyed this brief connection between haiku, Syracuse and Black History Month!

Haiku to Welcome Summer

Ah, Summer!  Sunshine (mostly), long, warm days (usually), soft breezes (often)!  What better way to officially welcome Summer – and all that it promises – than with a few haiku from the Syracuse Poster Project archives!

You can practically feel one of summer’s little pleasures with this beautifully written 2014 haiku by Thomas Stock (Fort Plain):

 Cool clover carpet,                                                                                                                                                              Seduce my bare feet with dew                                                                                                                                         Summer night, you muse!

And, on an early Summer’s morning, you might be surprised to hear the unique sound of hot-air balloons overhead–like Rosalyn Carroll (Manlius) did in her 2015 haiku:

 colorful balloons                                                                                                                                                             drift lazily overhead                                                                                                                                                           breathing like dragons

….or, from a distance, you’ll see what Nan Gartner (Fayetteville) describes in her colorful 2007 haiku:

 hot-air balloons rise                                                                                                                                                       and a riot of color                                                                                                                                                               blossoms in the sky

Either way, a sure sign Summer has arrived in Central New York, is the annual Jamesville Balloonfest held at Jamesville Beach Park.  One of many Syracuse Summer festivals to feature arts and crafts, food and music, this festival is special for its lovely venue and beautiful hot-air balloons!  

And, if heights aren’t your cup of tea, perhaps you’ll find one of the many Summertime events hosted by the Onondaga Historical Association, such as the Ghostwalk Tour of Oakwood Cemetery, more to your liking!  James Tobey (Cazenovia), former host of Jazz Impressions on WAER radio, found majesty in Oakwood’s grounds with his 2015 haiku:

 rooted in Oakwood                                                                                                                                                            old trees towering above                                                                                                                                                  granite monuments

….as did Mark Shevalier (Henderson) with his 2007 tribute to this tranquil and historic Syracuse landmark:

 And there they all sleep                                                                                                                                                    Beneath the earth and granite                                                                                                                                        Oakwood their fine bed

Summer would be incomplete without a visit to Thornden Park’s Amphitheater where you can help celebrate William Shakespeare’s 400th Birthday by catching a variety of theatre productions presented by the Syracuse Shakespeare Festival.  While you’re there, smell the roses (!) and become inspired–as did our poet, Rosalyn Carroll, and former Syracuse University Illustration Student, Rebecca Zomchek, now a full time Illustration professor at the Columbus College of Art and Design.  Rebecca’s motivation behind her beautiful poster: “I have always loved Shakespeare and was very excited about the opportunity to illustrate a piece about the wonderful Shakespeare Festival in the park. I love walking out to the amphitheater in the Spring when the roses in the park are in bloom.  I wanted to create a fun and interesting piece and tried to give my version of Shakespeare a unique look and personality.  I hope this piece reflects those ideas and the wonderful haiku, and encourages everyone to enjoy the wonderful festival, garden, and arts here in Syracuse.”

Drama in the round, / Roses, far and wide abound. / Shakespeare would be proud.

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Summertime events and haiku – what a great combination!