It’s the last week of February and many individuals and groups in our community are scurrying around trying to put together last minute Black History Month programs.
Instead of “Easter speeches” our youth are going up to church microphones to recite vignettes about African American heroes, our colleges are parading so-called Negro leaders across campus stages to talk about historical events that are not offensive to white college faculty members and some of our business folk are selling Black History T-shirts to wear at the chicken and beer get down at the fairgrounds.
I don’t do too much of that kind of stuff anymore. I go to church but I shy away from the watered-down versions of historical recognition.
My greatest moment of Black History came when I met Carter G. Woodson, known as “The father of Black History” in Washington, D. C. in the early 1970s.
Woodson was very old and at the time I really didn’t know who he was but I knew some of the important things he had said such as his comments about the miseducation of the Negro.
When I met Mr. Woodson, he was alone in a house filled with books and he looked like he didn’t have a friend in the world. He was, however, glad to see me. He was very engaging and seemed thrilled to be “educating” an aspiring freedom fighter. I talked to him about a documentary on Black music that I was producing for the National Public Radio (NPR) network.
These days I don’t run around to school programs or community historical activities. I don’t bow down to Negro leaders that charge thousands of dollars to give watered-down messages to college students that could care less about Black history and liberation. I don’t listen to speeches on Black History that are acceptable and written and spoken to please white benefactors.
I do however go to church. So I did hear the little children talk about Hank Aaron and Rosa Parks and other famous Black Americans.
They call February Black History Month but has anyone other than me noticed some of America’s most segregated and biased activities also take place in the month for lovers?
Well, you have “President’s Day” to recognize America’s Presidents that owned slaves. We also have civil war reenactments in February that celebrate the time when southerners fought to keep slavery intact, fought to prevent Black progress and plotted to turn Black people against one another.
The big sporting event in February is not the NBA All Star game that turns out to be predominately Black. The big event is the Daytona 500. You’ve got Black golfers, Black tennis players and Black hockey players and you have a million Black motorists that have been profiled and stopped for “speeding” but in 2011 you can’t find a Black NASCAR race car driver. The one or two that raced previously were very successful and auto, truck and motorcycle racing has race team owners today like football player Randy Moss and basketball owner Michael Jordon but the Daytona 500 does not have a single Black driver. How sad!
To me, Black History should be everyday, 24-7, 365. We should always seek to recognize, acknowledge and celebrate the lives and the accomplishments of all worthy African Americans from the scholars to the soldiers, from the artists to the activists, from the hunters to the hustlers!
But most of all, we should teach the children the truth!