This year marks the 8th year of Black History Month posts on this site. When I first began this annual feature, I introduced it with a post about the origins of this special month [https://baltimoreblackwoman.com/2015/02/02/the-origins-of-black-history-month/], as much for my edification as for you, the readers, who may question why this celebration even exists. But the course of American life and history, over these last 8 years, shows that this celebration is not only necessary, but it is once again being threatened in a way we haven’t seen since the early 20th century.
This year – 2022, has been one of major backlash against the very notion of teaching Black History, as well as other minorities’ histories, as if these aspects of the American Story were an assault on the “official,” whitewashed “American” Story promulgated by a reactionary segment of our population. Unfortunately, this reactionary segment of American society (and politics) has raised its divisive and narrow rhetoric once again, in an alarmingly cyclical pattern.
Each year, I have created a theme for the Black History posts (which you can find in the Archives listed on the site); and in previous years, I tried to post more frequent stories and features on a wide range of topics (culture, achievements, etc.). This year, however, I will only publish one post per week, and each post will contain one or two poems that illustrate why Black History is essential to American History, and the damaging effects of attempting to whitewash our history. Each post will be accompanied by featured artwork by my lifelong friend Jocelyn Garlington, who is both a gifted visual artist and poet in her own right. Her artwork can be found on Instagram (jossgarlingtonart) and Facebook.
As my logo says, “Black lives matter. The Black Experience Is the Human Experience.”
Week 1 (2/1-2/5/2022)
Featured Poet: afram bill (wc) williams
Frederick Douglass image – recast by jossgarlingtonart
critical erase weary
afram bill (wc) williams
we were blessed and raised to believe
that America could be more than it seemed
And so we worked
past broken nearly unredeemed
To shape a vision from the terror of your dream
now you say “forget it man don’t be so extreme
you don’t need knowledge to be my friend”
I know but we need wisdom to judge the end
without knowledge no wisdom can descend and truth remains ever the myth around the bend
afram bill (wc) williams
How can you maintain your being black
yet blend into this social fab-rac
Without leaving some of yourself back
wiser ones than you have trodden this track
they followed spirits who took up the slack
to bring the word and foil the attack when you act your own this instead of society’s that
About the Poet and the Poems
afram bill (wc) williams and I have been online friends since 2016, initially because of a shared interest in music. It was a cousin of mine who first made me aware of him, and I first got to know him as “wc” or Bill. As time went on, we discovered that we are fellow writers, and we began to encourage each other’s work. The depth of thought and emotion in Bill’s work astounds me, as he is so quiet and centered (“reserved” is not an accurate description) in his writings. Later, I learned that Bill is also an actor, with credits in the films Flatliners (1990), Chain Reaction (1996), and The Fugitive (1993), as well as in theatre (New York and Chicago). But what impresses me most is his poetic voice, which eloquently captures the essence of living human while black, and the depth of love and support he gives to and receives from his many friends. I am still deeply honored to be included in that number.