We all know how it goes when February 1st hits. Your timeline is flooded with posts on the accomplishments of Black legends in America and everybody gets hyped, sharing #FACTS, though most of the information is not new. Yeah, we're pretty consistent up until the 28th and then just like that- it's over for another year.
We refer to the same handpicked people and events from recycled school curriculum taught generation after generation (sounds like the fairytales we all know by heart).
Developing a new habit is in order to acknowledge that our ancestors were more than slaves and freedom fighters, and today we are more than the criminals, victims or low-class citizens portrayed in media/social media is crucial.
It's time to dig for gold not dirt. Mainstream media and the public school system both weren't designed to instill cultural pride or teach un-bias history to melanated children.
28 DAYS OF BLACK HISTORY... Come on son!
HISTORY OF BLACK HISTORY MONTH
Black History Month became a month-long celebration in 1976, just 50 years following its predecessor, Negro History Week.
Our history is multi-layered and much more productive than the whitewashed version which omits important facts and entire stories.
Education shouldn't stop when the afternoon bell rings. Yes, children need to be able to pass tests if enrolled in public school, but it's our responsibility to fill in the blanks.
Some of the most influential and prosperous Black leaders in America have strategically been left out of classrooms and textbooks, especially if they are considered radical or controversial. More specifically those promoting community improvement using separatism or Pan-Africanism, and the development of strong international relationships.
Here's a handful of some of the most notably accomplished individuals labeled notorious, but who's works cannot and should not be ignored:
-Benjamin "Pap" Singleton
-The Honorable Elijah Muhammad
-Dr. Malachi York
-Yahweh Ben Yahweh
If you aren't familiar with this list, be sure to use diverse sources to be well-informed. Whether you agree or disagree with their ideologies, it's our history. Remember, every story can be used as a tool for learning.
The same can be said about the under-recognition of Black communities that blossomed throughout the U.S., like settlements of thousands of Blacks called the Exodusters in Kansas and Colorado, The Greenwood District aka Black Wallstreet in Oklahoma, as well as a town built by free men in Eatonville, Florida. These are just a few examples.
Many heinous crimes committed against the Black population in this country have also either been entirely omitted or not covered sufficiently. For example, not many know the timeline or details of the bombing of the MOVE group in Philadelphia; the Tulsa Race Riot which destroyed 1,250 businesses, left hundreds dead and had the surviving men sent to internment camps afterwards; the Elaine Race Riot in which more than 800 sharecroppers were murdered for simply wanting higher pay; the FBI's disruption of Black organization through programs such as Cointelpro; or the real origin and devastation caused by the introduction of crack into Black communities across the nation.
Our attention is repeatedly directed to slavery, abolition and civil rights, with no mention of the many diabolical stories of sabotage and terrorism. Black neighborhoods didn't just end up in this current state.
THE WAY FORWARD
Regardless as to how our history is perceived by others, we need to strengthen and broaden our knowledge base. When we decide to invest more time and other resources in our education, build on what worked and point out what didn't, we will begin to identify and address our present day issues and ascend.
Start now. Visit our History Makers Page to learn about people, places and events you've never heard of or need a refresher on.