TimBookTu Editor's Message
Tired of Black History
I'm tired of hearing about black history. That is the sentiment that many may feel when February rolls around each year. It's not limited to white people; it's even coming from some black people. It is my impression that many of them feel like we are spending too much time on a particular group of people and should focus on everyone. After all, shouldn't we all be just Americans?
Well, I'm here to say that it would be nice if we could just focus on Americans. That's if it really included the history of all its people black, white, red, brown and yellow who all played a part and contributed to American history. The reason we have the special focus on black history each February is because it has been neglected in our classrooms, our homes and in the overall discussion in American society for so long. Honestly, how many white Americans really know a lot about the achievements of black Americans other than Martin Luther King, Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver? That black triumvirate constituted most of what was taught about black history during my elementary and high school days. How many young African Americans really know a whole lot about them even today?
I was fortunate to have parents and other mentors that taught me significantly more about black history than what I learned in school. It wasn't until college that I gained an even great knowledge about black engineers, scientists, doctors, lawyers, educators, entrepreneurs, athletes, entertainers, theologians, philosophers, soldiers, explorers, cowboys, craftsmen and many more. You name a profession or activity and there has been a black person in our history that have has some involvement in that endeavor.
When we really know our black history, we'll know about Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The wealthiest black community in the United States was the home of many thriving black businesses and boasted several black millionaires due to the Oil Boom of the 1910's. Yet, this business district went into decline following the Tulsa Race Riot.
If we know our black history, we will know about Horace King, the well-respected black architect and bridge builder of the 1800's. He built bridges in Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi, some of which still stand today. He designed the spiral staircase that didn't require a central support and is still a prominent feature in the Alabama State Capitol.
If we don't get tired of black history, we will know about the black architect Paul Williams who designed many of the fabulous mansions in Hollywood for stars such as Frank Sinatra and Lucille Ball. He rendered many of his drawings upside down because some of his white clients refused to sit next to him at the table when he made his presentations.
Our black history knowledge would include Thomas Day, a black furniture designer and cabinetmaker during the 1800's in North Carolina, a state known for its furniture-making businesses. His masterful furniture designs were sought by wealthy patrons and political leaders of his day. At that time, his furniture business was one of the largest of its type in the state.
Our children and young adults should watch the documentary "Eyes on the Prize" that chronicled a significant portion of the Civil Rights movement. They should read books on history such as "Before the Mayflower" by Lerone Bennett and "From Slavery to Freedom" by John Hope Franklin. They should read the Jesse B. Semple humor stories by Langston Hughes and "There Eyes Were Watching God" by Zora Neale Hurston. If you want to explore some different and more contemporary reading, pick up a book by Octavia Butler, Tananarive Due and Brandon Massey. These are authors that have written some great books on science fiction and help to demonstrate that we have talents beyond the typical genres.
Our knowledge of black culture shouldn't rely solely on what is fed to us through mass media where we seem to only get an unhealthy diet that consists of the latest exploits of Nene, Cookie, the Kardashians, the housewives, the hip-hop divas, the basketball wives, vulgar rappers, wayward athletes and other behaving badly characters. Will this be the only black history that our children will know and remember? Will we be proud of this when we look back on this era?
So, let's not get weary of black history when the month of February arrives. If we pay more attention to and learn more about our history on a daily basis, we'll be happy when each February rolls around. Instead of being tired of black history, we'll celebrate and be proud of black achievements and learn from the challenges and sorrows of the past.
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