February is Black History Month. Tell the children our story.
We hope that we will never go through the things that our ancestors endured, but their story and words are a thousand hugs. Black history is not to cure the darkness of the past but to light the strength of our future.
Our history is bad, it is good, it’s beautiful, it is ugly, but it is our history. It is American history. History denotes and enhances the concept of our true value. Black history gives all Americans a realistic view of America and helps heal the great divide, and with healing comes a new and positive growth for America.
History informs us how to use our past to shape our future. No group or no one knows America better than those who were owned by America. The heritage of our past are the seeds that we use to harvest our future. Our history is how our ancestors as slaves descended into a cycle of despair, beaten into submission, and yet forged forth their path in liberty.
If you don’t understand the history of Black Americans, you cannot understand the history of America. We cannot say the past is the past without surrendering the future.
Many of our black youth do not have a positive concept of their value. They did not get affirmation from family or society, so they grew up not knowing how wonderful and needed they were. Everyone has value, and when you know your past, you know your worth. You can build on your sense of worth by focusing on your positive attributes. The way one views their history depends on just how tinted one’s rose-colored glasses are. We use our past to determine who we are today.
Dr. Carter Woodson is credited with creating Black History Month. He contended that black history is essential to ensure that the intellectual and physical contributions made by Black Americans become a part of the larger American community.
Black history in what is now the United States
Our ancestors first arrived in the Americas by slave ship in 1619 at Jamestown, Virginia. Slavery is a repugnant hate of humanity. Slavery officially ended with the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865. The American Revolutionary War began April 1775 and ended 1783. Slaves were freed to fight for America’s independence from the British.
One of the first patriots to fall during the Revolutionary War was Crispus Attucks, a Black American. Other Black Americans who distinguished themselves in the Revolutionary War were Peter Salem, Seymore Burr, Alexander Ames and Cato Howe. There were all-black regiments that fought in the Revolutionary War.
When the war ended, Black Americans were again enslaved. Black Americans believed intensely in America and fought and died in every American conflict.
Our ancestors survived through relentless faith and dreams — dreams that they nourished — with the diligence of a dragon slayer, until the abstract became concrete. A dreamer is the bearer of unseen possibilities — that enlarged horizon, the great “I AM.” They knew and believed that there is a “Balm in Gilead.” Dreams conceived in truth and justice can never die.
After slavery: apartheid
When slavery ended, it was replaced by apartheid. States enacted “Black Codes” restricting the movement of Black Americans and assuring their availability for certain jobs. There were no rights to assemble. Segregation, lynching and laws were enacted to diminish the hopes of Black Americans. Laws that are promulgated to demise the quality of life of human beings are just a framework for a crime.
Contributions of Black Americans listed
Black Americans have always given and continued to give their genius to America. When trains needed an automatic lubricating devise to increase their efficiency, Eli McCoy, a black man, invented and patented the first automatic lubricating cup for large machinery.
Other black inventors: Granville Woods invented the first multiplex telegraph; Lew Latimer invented the first incandescent filament for the light bulb; Garrett Morgan invented the first gas mask and patented the first traffic signal; Charles Drew created the first blood bank; George Washington Carver revolutionized the agriculture industry and found more than 300 uses for the peanut; Otis Boykin patented the first resistors used in pacemakers and missiles; Katherine Jackson, mathematician at NASA, computed the speed and angle for John Glenn to orbit the earth and return; Jesse Wilkins perfected lens designated for microscopes and gamma shields; and Patricia Bath invented the laser probe for cataract treatment.
Many more inventions by Black Americans are in use in our everyday life.
We can celebrate our ancestors’ highs and accomplishments — but never forget the depths of their beginnings.