OUR BLACK HISTORY MONTH

This is an assignment from the blog of Angry Black Woman  (http://theangryblackwoman.wordpress.com),  with a challenging call to everyone to make Black History Month more pertinent. More real. More relevant to all of us.

“It’s February. Black History Month is upon us again. *rolls eyes* Huey Freeman (of Boondocks fame) summed it up best when he said:

Every Black History Month it’s the same thing – the Underground railroad and George Washington Carver. Like nothing else ever happened to black people!

The next frame of the strip then shows the teacher bringing up MLK and Rosa Parks as Huey shakes his head in disgust.

I’m with McGruder on this one. True, it’s good to learn about African American history from the roots of slavery to the triumph of Civil Rights. But the focus is all too often narrow, the topics clichéd, and the point missed entirely. Plus, I haven’t seen too much emphasis on black folks since Civil Rights except to update us on those in the movement who are still alive.

Back in high school there was a Black History Month essay contest sponsored by the Postal Service to promote a new stamp. G W Carver’s, I believe. My teachers encouraged me to send something in because I was a well-known good writer (it was an urban public high school – I was easy to spot). Already disillusioned with BHM, I decided to write an anti-essay. Instead of waxing poetic about MLK or Harriet Tubman or even Richard Wright, I wrote about my personal black history. I told how my Uncle Buddy kept our family history alive for us as one of the family’s favorite storytellers. If you wanted to know how someone was related to someone else (plus a few off-color anecdotes about them), you asked Buddy. If you needed entertainment at a family gathering, you ‘got Buddy started’. I concluded that the black history that really mattered to me was my family history.

I won the contest.

That was over ten years ago and I haven’t thought about it in a long time. But something sparked the memory this morning. (It was probably that awesome BHM bit on the Daily Show last night.) And I thought that instead of posting the same old and tedious BHM posts or even the anti-BHM posts, let’s make Black History Month useful again. What black folk do we hardly ever talk about yet deserve to be remembered if not celebrated? What recent history is worth exploring? And what is your personal black history? I would love to hear stories about people’s families. Either stuff you remember or stuff you were told. How did your people contribute to history? How were they affected by it?

So seriously, this is the Black History I want to explore this month. Post this on your blog, pass it around, email your grannies and cousins for material. Recommend some books, dig up some history, have fun!

Then come back here and tell me about it. Oh, and tag your posts “Our Black History Month”

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So.  What are the aspects of black history that are of importance to you?  The mostly unknown history of black women in America? The many unknown inventions and contributions to medicine, science, the arts, technology, education and religion accomplished by black women? The impact that black women have had on sex and race in America?

Who are the most important people in black history that you feel are largely given short shrift, or no mention at all, during BHM?

Tell us your story.

4 Comments

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4 responses to “OUR BLACK HISTORY MONTH

  1. BHM.

    My personal opinions on who should be given attention:

    US Black pioneers who perhaps are underlooked:

    Hattie McDaniel
    Toni Morrison

    European Black pioneers:
    Eusebio (first black football player to gain recognition in European leagues. Originally from Mozambique

    So many — I need to write a comprehensive list!

    –A

  2. Ann

    Aulelia, thanks for stopping by.

    In reference to your comment.

    Toni Morrison? Hmm. I would of thought of her as very well known, what with her winning the Nobel Prize for Literature, and her numerous well-known novels (“Tar Baby”, “The Bluest Eye”, “Beloved”, to name just a few.)

    Now, Hattie McDaniel. There is a black woman who has been relegated to the dustbin of being a footnote to history.

    Many do not know that she was the FIRST black woman to win an Oscar in the Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her role of “Mammy”in “Gone With the Wind”.

    “Eusebio”?

    I shall learn more about this person.

  3. stephaniegirl

    Black history month is more than just slavery and the civil rights movement. It’s the Harlem Renaissance, the antilynching movement, Black panthers, Black businesses, Black towns after civil war, Ron Brown, Colin Powell, Barack Obama, Carol Moseley Braun, Anita Hill, etc. Let’s broaden Black history to include these examples above. Thank you.

    Stephanie

  4. healtheland

    Ann: Replied to your kind and thoughtful reply here (http://healtheland.wordpress.com/2007/02/12/satan-is-real-and-is-after-your-children/#comment-122).

    And to answer your question: I would like for Black History Month to talk about the wealthy atheist, socialist, Marxist, and communist Jews and whites who bankrolled and for the first few decades of its existence ran the NAACP, and how W.E.B. “Talented Tenth” DuBois was their willing frontman until he realized that his dreams of America going after Soviet Communism was never going to come to fruition, so he went off to Ghana to die (and was so kind as to pay the brutal thug Mao Zhedong a visit … I would imagine that the issue of all the Christians and other folks who were being imprisoned, tortured, and murdered under Mao’s “Cultural Revolution” in China never came up between DuBois and Mao, just as DuBois, Paul Robeson, and all of those other sorts never found any evidence of the 20 million or so that Stalin and the several million more that Lenin killed in the Soviet Union). But of course, the people who write our history books are never going to talk about how DuBois went off to live like royalty as the guest of Mao, or talk about his support for Stalin and Lenin, because if the people who write our history books had their way, they’d haul off the Christians to prison and hard labor camps in this country like like Mao, Stalin, Lenin, and FIDEL CASTRO did in theirs.

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