It amazes me how much focus there is on African American history in the months of January and February, with programs and events relating to Dr. Martin Luther King’s Holiday and African American History Month. It seems to be almost sacrilegious or disrespectful for some descendants of slaves not to deliberate on these months to celebrate our legacy and spotlight contributions of past and present men and women of color. But how much are we missing by limiting our celebrations to approximately 60 days?
There is so much history and so many people who have sacrificed and died for us to be able to appreciate the limited amount of freedom and respect that we observe. What is alarming is that studies show that African American history is the least significant subject for American students, black and white, and our history books grossly distort history, and usually omit the story of our forefathers and of our culture.
There are so many that had an influential hand in the course of not only our history but the history of this nation. Each January and February we hear of the involvement and contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Fannie Lou Hamer, Medgar Evers, Daisy Bates, Booker T. Washington, Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Stokley Carmichael or Kwame Ture, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Marcus Garvey, Martin Delaney, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev. Dr. Ralph Abernathy, Rev. James Lawton, James Meredith, Angela Davis, Floyd McKissick, and Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune.
There are so many other historical figures that are not famous who have used their rights to freedom of speech and civil disobedience that have contributed important thoughts and teachings to let us know that we are inheritors of a precious historical legacy.
There are remarkable historical speeches and actions of many great leaders we know nothing about because the textbooks exclude or neglect them, but there are authors who have dedicated themselves to revealing the truth. We should read of Marita Bonner who published short stories and essays from 1924 to 1941 in Opportunity, The Crisis, Black Life and other magazines; Daisy Bates who in 1952 became the Arkansas branch president of the NAACP. In 1954, when the Supreme Court ruled racial segregation of schools was unconstitutional, Daisy Bates and others worked to figure out how to integrate the Little Rock Schools; Charles E. Cobb, Jr. who from 1962-1967 served as a field secretary for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in Mississippi. He is. a founding member of the Association of Black Journalists, and wrote the book .
Also we should read and teach about the many books, poems and speeches of the late Amiri Baraka.
There is such a long list that we could publish, and I hope that you will research these authors and others. We should understand their ideals and appreciate the work done by them, because we need to better demonstrate to our community and to the world what it is they are missing.
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Be Ever Wonderful!