Now that Black History Month is over, what do we do now? For the past 29 days, this is a leap year, I have heard from the usual cast of characters. I heard about Dr. Martin Luther King and his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. I heard about Harriett Tubman, W. E. B. Dubois, James Weldon Johnson and President Obama. To my surprise, I even heard a young brother give an oral presentation on Nat Turner and His Slave Revolt.
What troubles me, and I am troubled, is the fact that I was always led to believe that history is more than just a group of dates and events. One of my under graduate professors defines history as being a tool to change your present and prepare your future. If this is true, the month of March should be the beginning of great change in the African –American community. We can see how those who came before us worked to change their present day and prepared the day in which we now live. History taught them about the middle passage, slavery and Jim Crow. They remember hearing the stories about the “strange fruit hanging from southern trees” and those who gave their all for the cause of freedom. Looking back, I can say there was a lesson to be learned and they got it.
They learned that unity, commitment and hard work was the only way to bring about the change needed. Governor Wallace of Alabama was not going to just open his state school. They had to force his hand, Lesson Learned. The dirty laundry of southern hatred for people of color was not going to fade away over time, but it needed to be washed in a movement that used the detergent of non-violence of Dr. King along with the bleach of force of Malcolm X. This perfect mix rinsed the lives of the oppressor as well as the oppressed. Lesson Learned.
So I ask today, have we learned our lesson? Are we working to change our present and prepare a better future, or are we just telling good stories with no motivating goal. I suggest to the reader that we don’t have to go back too far to learn lessons. James Brown was a great mind and entertainer but history has documented his domestic issues and trouble with the law. Lesson Learned. Michael Jackson was truly the “King of Pop” but his legacy will always include the footnote of drug dependency and questionable behavior. Lesson Learned. Just this past month we lost a voice that took me from high school, to college, to manhood in the death of Whitney Houston. Whitney and Anita Baker moved my generation, but Whitney’s story has a chapter that includes Bobby and drugs. Lesson Learned.
Please understand, Romans 3.23 reminds me “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” but history validates the effects of sin on greatness. I pray we use yesterday on today to get ready for tomorrow and learn the lessons already taught.
Your response is welcome and encourage C. MeGill Brown firstname.lastname@example.org