"If a race has no history, if it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated." -Dr. Carter G. Woodson
There are so many unknown facts and secrets about Black America's history that it would take a lifetime to catch up on all there is to know. Entering 5th grade, I was introduced to what was called 'American History.' Painfully dull, unbelievably forgettable, I recall dreading the time spent in that class every single day. Textbooks filled with endless paragraphs and other meticulously selected subjects designed to control the narrative and silence the knowledge. Feeling forced to absorb a history that was not of my own and instructed to learn, memorize, and recite the Pledge of Allegiance, I went along with it because it was all that I knew. 'One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.' Indivisible human rights are described as follows; “Human rights are indivisible. Whether they relate to civil, cultural, economic, political, or social issues, human rights are inherent to the dignity of every human person. Consequently, all human rights have equal status and cannot be positioned in hierarchical order.”
Dr. Carter Godwin Woodson, distinguished Black author, editor, publisher, and historian (December 1875 - April 1950). Carter G. Woodson believed that Blacks should know their past in order to participate intelligently in the affairs in our country. He strongly believed that Black history - which others have tried so diligently to erase - is a firm foundation for young Black Americans to build on in order to become productive citizens of our society.
Known as the "Father of Black History," Carter G. Woodson holds an outstanding position in the early 20th century American history. Woodson authored numerous scholarly books on the positive contributions of Blacks to the development of America. He also published many magazine articles analyzing the contributions and role of Black Americans. He reached out to schools and the general public through the establishment of several key organizations and founded Negro History week (precursor to Black History Month). His message was that Blacks should be proud of their heritage and that other Americans should also understand it. Reference; www.naacp.org/naacp-history-carter-g-woodson/
Books By Dr. Woodson
As I continue my self-discovery journey and knowledge of the history I was forfeited as a child, I must accept that what one does not understand, one surely cannot be expected to teach. The work of Dr. Woodson brought light to the cultural purpose of Black History and the importance of sharing that History within the Black communities and the entire world. Knowledge is vital. Learn more of this amazingly dynamic force in the history of Black America.
*Video courtesy of YouTube.
"Learning to accept insult, to compromise on principle, to mislead your fellow man, or to betray your people, is to lose your soul." -Dr. Carter G. Woodson.
Your exploration of black history this month---so much of which was untold to us as children---and your delicate and surgically chosen phrasing of "controlling the narrative and silence the knowledge" reminds me of the unlocking of the code of an encrypted memo only to find even that has been redacted. I remember the movie exchange in Higher Learning "What are you doing?" "Plotting to steal." "Plotting to steal what?" "All the information." The why we have to steal it and the why it's so hidden is what has always intrigued me. I've concluded, much as you have, that the restrictors of that information consciously or sub' are driven through different methods by a uniform fear. The fear that we might learn from our past, begin our experience further downfield and move forward in a race began as equals instead of behind. They know we're faster. Dr. Woodson lit the lantern illuminating the contributions of blacks in development of this country...and writers like you make it continue to shine ever so brightly. That way we can see our footprints and get traction to make more strides. Well written, and well shared!
Yes, most definitely. As a writer, I wanted to touch on a subject that is uncomfortable for many and felt it important to bring Black History to the forefront and to life. Not just the month of February, but every month. If I can reach one person, my job is done and it lets me know my efforts were not in vain. In order to grow and educate we have to step out of those comfort zones. Thank you for your insight!
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AJ is a creative writer and storyteller writing from her home in Indiana.
"This is how you do it; you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it's done. It's that easy, and that hard." -Neil Gaiman