By Mary Ellen Amaker
Many have asked why is it necessary to set aside a specific month to celebrate Black History? The answer is as clear as any main stream history book, which fails to include and incorporate the accomplishments of an entire race. While Columbus did not “discover” America, Africans were among his sailors and saw the “new world” as free men. Africans were a part of the colonization of the Americas.
Later chattel slavery became a main stay in the in the building of the United States of America. Africans were only viewed as free labor; it was as though no one thought of where they evolved from? A language barrier was purposely left intact. It was easier for America to think our history just sprang forth from slavery. We know this is erroneous.
We built pyramids; we were sailors before the Norsemen, educators at the University of Timbuktu, centuries before there were any European universities. We were great generals such as Hannibal who crossed the Alps on elephants. These facts were not forgotten, they were not acknowledged, these facts were left out of latter-day history books.
While major facts were destroyed much was kept intact. I think many facts of Black history were omitted because of personal bigotry. As you think of the greatest civilizations one should readily think of the African continent. We know that knowledge is power. I choose to use my knowledge of my people to educate others; always embracing my heritage, yet respecting the heritage of others.
We must teach others that Rosa Parks stood for her beliefs in equality, but so did Fannie Lou Hammer. George Washington Carver was a great scientist, but so was Percy L. Julian. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a great preacher, speaker, and activist, so was Richard Allen. Harriet Tubman lead many slaves to freedom, Septima Clark taught us about the freedoms we were entitled to. There is an endless list of contributors to our race, culture, and ethnicity; literally, from A to Z (astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison to zoologist Dr. Roger Arliner Young).
We cannot afford to wait on any one else to define who we are and what is great about us. The world should know that Aesop was African born around 620 BC. Yet his moral fables (The Fox and the Grapes, The Tortoise and the Hare, and the Lion and the Mouse…) are still read today.
We can and we must educate our own and others of the great accomplishments of people of African descent. We cannot rely on the mainstream media to be inclusive of African Americans when their contributions have been denied for so long. As we witness another day of celebration let us make a pledge to note an accomplishment of our people every day.