By Roy Douglas Malonson
“There is no more powerful force than a people steeped in their history…” Lonnie Bunch
BLACK HISTORY… no greater words can be spoken when describing the value of understanding where you come from. Knowing and respecting Black History is not only precious knowledge, but also is a special kind of power African-Americans desperately need to revive us and help us persevere.
We MUST Understand that history is 24/7/365! Limiting it to February, the shortest month of the year – a mere 28 days – is shortchanging our contributions, sacrifices accomplishments and successes as a people to America.
I reject the idea of a Black History Month because Black History should be more than paying lip service, doing programs or school assignments emphasizing a few crumbs of history and some hand-picked Black heroes picked out by Whites along the way for us to recognize year in and year out.
True Black history to America is what the iceberg was to the Titanic. It sinks and destroys the old stereotypes about Black folk and exposes decades of cover ups and White lies that for years have bent Black history and made us appear as inferior, idle-minded and lazy people. Even today, some radio and talk show hosts and even in the Congress of the United States still want to keep African-Americans in the dark about how intelligent and talented we are as a race of people.
Carter G. Woodson tried to jump start the idea of keeping Black connected to history when he created Negro History Week in 1926. He not only wanted to connect children to the history, but also highlight the beauty and contributions of blackness to science, military, writing, music and art.
Woodson hoped to make that point by increasing Black visibility and prove to White America that Blacks played an important role in creating America and state the case for equality.
That was only suppose to be the beginning. Black folk failed to build on that foundation and our forward progress and momentum slowed to a crawl. We allowed racist government policies and desegregation to hide the shining truths about our rich heritage, creative spirits and perseverance. Hidden in our history is the legacy of a great and intelligent people!!!
DID YOU KNOW there is list of African-American inventors and scientists who created many things we use daily and take for granted. Some of the hundreds of Black inventors who have made our lives easier are: Sarah Boone, who invented the ironing board; Heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson, the wrench; L. C. Bailey, the wind powered clothes dryer; John A. Burr, the lawn mower; Garrett Morgan, the traffic signal and gas mask; Phil Brooks, the disposable syringe; William B. Purvis, the fountain pen; G.F. Grant, the golf tee; J.F. Love, pencil sharpener; Charles Banks, the jack and hydraulic jack; Otis Boykin, artificial heart pacemaker control; Frederick M. Jones, refrigerated truck systems; and David Crosthwait Jr., heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems to name a few.
Their work and discoveries are the tip of the iceberg and have been shadowed and overlooked because many White companies stole their inventions, took advantage, made millions and failed to share the wealth and give credit where credit is due. These accomplishments are proof that African-American history is vital.
Black history tells us we as a people have endured, despite 350 years of murders, rapes, brutal treatment and slavery at the hands of White plantation bullies. It tells us we survived over 100 Black men being lynched annually from 1881 to 1917 and thousands being put in prison and on chain gangs. We have survived Jim Crow Era, segregation and the assassination of intelligent leaders.
Now, we live in an age where some in White America are working hard to tarnish the image of the nation’s first Black president – Barack Obama.
Black America cannot allow people to change our history or confine it to 28 days a year. We MUST Understand that knowing our history and focusing on it 24/7/365 breeds pride for all of our accomplishments and sends a strong message that we as African-Americans are a proud people of purpose and a people with a bright future.
The physical chains of slavery are gone. The only ones that remain are the ones we allow to chain our own will, mind and spirit. African-American history 24/7/365 should inspire each of us to draw inspiration and guidance from our ancestors. We MUST Understand that finding our real path to true greatness means using ALL of our history as a lightning rod to spark a new creative spirit and intelligence into a generation that will spread like a wildfire through the community and reignite that power in our homes, schools, streets and churches.