I'm an African American. I was born in America. My parents however were not, yet I strongly identify with the Black American story. That story is similar for people of color across the globe but especially as it pertains to slavery. It's obvious that slavery is not the only history of black people(s) however in America it seems so much of American history is tied up with slavery. This is because most Africans were brought here for the specific reason of being slaves. Now, this is not a post about slavery per se, but history ,which happens to encompass slavery.
I work with children every week. More particularly children who look like me. I'm really surprised and saddened that so many of them do not know their history. How can we as a people honestly move forward if we don't know where we came from? I'm not sure when or why black history stopped being important to the average black person in America but it's not o.k.with me. When I read stories of the struggle and the triumphs, when I read about the strength, resourcefulness and resiliency of our people, I just can't understand how we let that get lost. Modern or popular culture is great but we are so much more than just popular culture.
I'd love to develop a platform to share our history with most young ( and old) folks. It's such a rich history and even though my family history most likely cannot be traced here, I embrace and identify with this as my history too. OUR history. I started to learn about American Black history while listening to a Harry Connick Jr. ( who is white) oddly enough. I heard a song on one of his albums featuring Carmen Mc Rae and I thought she was someone new so I looked her up. I had no idea that she was a veteran of jazz. Along side her name were names of her contemporaries and other older artists. These artists were mostly black and names I had heard NOTHING of. Some of the first people I read about were Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith. Until then, the most I knew about black history was a few things about monumental figures like Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King. I became so curious that I checked out every book I could ( remember libraries?) on black music and black people. These stories aren't told in American history books. It's up to us to make them live on for the next generation. I have been passing on a little knowledge here and there but I certainly have to do more. What ideas do you have to help further the knowledge for the next generation and beyond?