Here in Detroit, we get the Rev. Al Sharpton, National Action Network, radio show. Occasionally he will pose a question about race in America and open the topic for discussion.
One of the questions that he asked is how do you identify yourself, are you Negro,Colored, Black, Black in America, or African-American? Most of the callers considered themselves to be Black, or Black in America. The reasons, for their choice of self-identification, were many. But the general consensus was, that the politics of the day took away our African ties, we lost most of our heritage and lineage, which is what makes you part of a particular nationality or demographic. The Africans consider us American and the Americans consider us African, one song writer put it like this “American Fruit with Roots.
The next question he asked was “Should we teach our children Black History?” Most of the callers agreed that we should teach our children black history. Some callers said the past is the past, let it go. They also thought that acknowledging, how we came to be here in America, holds us back from making real progress.
I believe that we do have to teach our youth the full history of Black people in America. The public school system in general is not teaching black history at all or it is limited to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and the Black History Month Project. There are some Afro centered schools that do emphasize Black History, but there are not enough of them to teach all of our children.
Black History should be part of teaching our children the things they need to know, to get along in life. “He who controls the past controls the future” George Orwell.
When we watch war movies, we are watching a broadcast version of the history of the United States Military, When we Honor Pearl Harbor, we are participating in keeping the history in the forefront so that we do not forget.
Race is part of our history, you can not tell the story of Black People in America, if you don’t talk about race, and the implications that being of on race or another had on you. Consider “A Raisin in the Sun”
If we should not forget Pearl Harbor, D-Day and other historical events why should we forget our history? example; The Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves, enacted March 2, 1807. The act is a United States federal law that stated that no new slaves were permitted to be imported into the United States. It took effect in 1808, the earliest date permitted by the United States Constitution.
The Wanderer is the last documented ship to bring a cargo of slaves from Africa to the United States (November 28, 1858), approximately 409 of the enslaved Africans had survived.
The importation of slaves continued on a regular basis even though the practice had been prohibited since 1808. The federal government prosecuted the owner and crew of the Wanderer, but failed to win a conviction.
Should we forget Amistad?, The Mende People were captured in Africa and were being transported to America. In July 1839, thirty years after 1808, the Africans took control of the ship. La Amistad was captured off the coast of Long Island by the Revenue Cutter USS Washington. The case, United States v. The Amistad (1841) was finally decided by the Supreme Court of the United States in favor of the Mende, restoring their freedom. It became a symbol in the movement to abolish slavery.
The Emancipation Proclamation January 1, 1863 freed some slaves, but not all slaves were free until the Thirteenth Amendment.
The thirteenth amendment passed in January 1865 and was ratified in December 1865, The Army freed the last slaves in July, l865.
The Black Code Laws and Jim Crow Laws began in 1866 and were still in force until after the civil rights demonstrations of the 1960’s The civil rights act 1964 , the voting rights act 1965 , the fair housing act 1968, and the end of segregation laws nationwide,
we know that the end of the law did not immediately mean the end of the practice.
We need to teach our youth Black History, we can’t afford not to.
History must be written of, by and for the survivors.
If the past has been an obstacle and a burden, knowledge of the past is the safest and the surest emancipation.
Lord Acton –
He who has money, lives long: he who has authority, can do no wrong: he who has might, establishes right. Such is history! Ecce historia!
Gottfried Benn –
If history teaches anything about the causes of revolution…it is that a disintegration of political systems precedes revolutions… the telling symptom of disintegration is a progressive erosion of governmental authority… that this erosion is caused by the government’s inability to function properly, from which spring the citizens’ doubts about its legitimacy.
Hannah Arendt –
Whoever wishes to foresee the future must consult the past; for human events ever resemble those of preceding times. This arises from the fact that they are produced by men who ever have been, and ever shall be, animated by the same passions, and thus they necessarily have the same results.
A country without a memory is a country of madmen.
George Santayana –
A page of history is worth a volume of logic. O. W. Holmes –
The supreme purpose of history is a better world.
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