Over the course of this month, I collected and shared many Black History Month stories on Facebook, with the intention of presenting them as themed posts on this page throughout the month. Unfortunately, I, like so many of you, have been so overwhelmed and frightened by our current national and international calamity of an Un-president (whose name I will never utter), that I have been unable to think rationally or function very well at a day-to-day level, much less write about anything coherently.
But as this critically important month in the celebration of our history as a nation draws to a close, it is my duty to try. If I don’t try, who will? Actually, many of my fellow writers on WordPress—including a growing number of White writers—have surprised me with their eloquence, sensitivity, and respect for the history and legacy of Black America. How, then, can I not also do likewise?
So, here is a list of links to the stories, little known facts, and photos about Black People and our history in America that “woke me up” this month.
This first link is to a story featuring photos of Black people during the Victorian Age. We’ve been so conditioned to jump from images of slaves to images of modern inner cities, with connotations of “carnage” and “disorder”. Of being on the outside of everything “civil” and “good.” We can’t even imagine the fact that Black people lived within their times the same as anyone else. Here’s to the Beauty and Elegance of Black Victorians: http://www.upworthy.com/17-stunning-photos-of-black-victorians-show-how-history-really-lookedhe=ufb2
Next is a collection of photos of everyday life of Black people in Lincoln, Nebraska in the early 1900s, by amateur photographer, John Johnson: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4232572/Pictures-everyday-life-African-Americans-1900s-Lincoln.html
Finally, here is an article about a collection of Gordon Parks’ photos of 1950s segregation in America. It was originally planned to be published in Life Magazine, but it never appeared: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/16/gordon-parks_n_6489120.html?utm_hp_ref=black-voices&ir=Black%2BVoices§ion=black-voices&ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000047
Dignity in the Face of Hatred and Destruction
The Rosewood Massacre. Last year I featured a story about the legacy of this massacre from my friend Karen Sams, whose family survived this terrible chapter of our history. Now, here is an account of why and how this thriving community was destroyed: http://www.myajc.com/news/national/the-rosewood-massacre-how-lie-destroyed-black-town/wTcKjELkGskePsWiwutQuO/
An entire Black Manhattan Village was destroyed to make space for Central Park, NY. The greed and arrogance of the powers that be in municipal government could not stay hidden forever. Read this story: https://timeline.com/black-village-destroyed-central-park-6356723113fa#.kbg8jxfb1
Historic “Firsts”: Little Known Achievements of Black People to the Governance, Growth, and Defense of America
The First White House memoirist, of President James Madison, was a freed slave. Today, we think of White House memoirs being written by erudite and gifted historians. But a Black man—in the 1700s!—wrote the first memoir, of the President he served(!): https://www.whitehousehistory.org/paul-jennings?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_content=Paul+Jennings
The Founder of Chicago was Black! Jean Baptiste Point du Sable was his name. His story follows. [Let us also remember (story not available here) the contributions of Benjamin Banneker to the design of Washington, D.C.] https://blackthen.com/did-you-know-a-black-man-founded-chicago/
First African-American to receive the Medal of Honor received it after the Civil War! http://thefederalistpapers.org/us/meet-sgt-william-carney-first-african-american-medal-of-honor-recipient
Closing Thoughts: These are just a small sampling of the stories I collected. In every sphere of life, Black people have been an integral part of the founding, building, and growth of America. Equal to—and in many cases, more than—every other immigrant who has landed on these shores. It pains me to my core that my writings betray the chip on my shoulder regarding my heritage, especially now, at a time when our nation is so fractured by forces from within and without. But until our nation deals squarely with the issue of Race, that chip stays on my shoulder, and my byline will continue to read: The Black Experience Is The Human Experience.