I remember as if it were yesterday. The moment I fell in love with Black History. I was born in Chicago, IL and grew up in Cairo, IL. My first vivid memory of even receiving a glimpse of what my ancestors went through is when I saw Roots on TV. Roots provided a foundation for the treatment of Blacks in America. I was horrified and angry at the images that were seared in my brain.
Fast forward to what I was taught in school. Black History was not focused on as much as it should have been in school. I remember being taught year after year about the same few icons of Black History: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Frederick Douglas and Harriet Tubman. That was pretty much all we were taught. While in high school I had to read an autobiography of a person of my choice and write a book report about the person. I wanted to write about a woman and decided to research and find a Black woman. I read some information about Mary McLeod Bethune and wanted to find out more about her. After reading about her life, I thought I could achieve whatever I wanted to achieve. I fell in love with Black History!
I searched and found more and more books about Black History and the achievements of Blacks. I read about Fannie Lou Hammer. When I read her story, I vowed to always vote! I would never belittle the privilege that my ancestors sacrificed their very lives for me to be able to simply cast my vote. The trial of the men that murdered Emmett Till instilled in me a willingness to perform my civic duty and partake in jury duty. Never will I miss the opportunity to make sure there really is a “jury of your peers” available to hear your case! I fell deeper in love with Black History!
As I continued my research, I learned of the great Black Kings and Queens and of the various inventions that were created by Black people! My self-esteem increased even more. I read Malcolm X autobiography and knew being militant resonated more with me than practicing civil disobedience. I refused to be mistreated and when presented with racial situations I spoke up and demanded to be treated like everyone else!
Today we have a school of thought that our children need to learn about some other aspects of Black History and we should be passed focusing on slavery and Civil Rights. Well, guess what?! Those aspects of our history are still relevant today because there are those who still only see us as slaves and living beneath them. We have to teach all aspects of our history until everyone understands the ramifications of slavery, racism and prejudices. Slavery and Civil Rights history needs to be taught until racism and hate are torn from the foundation of our nation.
PBS has programming this month that will provide a broader knowledge an appreciation of the contributions from African-Americans. You can view the listings HERE
Yes, all those years ago I fell in love with Black History! When did you fall in love with Black History?