February in the United States is Black History Month. I do not care either way about if it’s fair or needed or whatever. However. I do have a MAJOR pet peeve about the month though: Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, apparently Oprah, and Rosa Parks are the only famous Americans of African descent who are discussed and quoted!
Harriet Tubman used to be a big name during this month, but her name is slowly falling out of conversation as time passes.
A co-worker of mine reminds us daily that we should be celebrating all this month. The leaders of the workplace have been humoring him with our morning, motivational quote (whole different post I could write on that) being from MLK and Booker T. Washington. This co-worker was going on about how we all could stand to study these greats a bit more and how America would not be the same without them.
Guess whose favorite genres of books have always been historical fiction and non-fiction? That is correct. Yours truly. I decided to give him daily quizzes.
The first: Who was Phyllis Wheatley? Nobody knew. The Answer? She was a brilliant African woman who was stolen from her people and sold into slavery before she turned ten years old. She was sold in the British colonies of North America where her “family” recognized her intelligence and gave her an education which emphasized literature and history far above even what the daughters of most colonists were given. She was a poet. Unfortunately, with the dominance of the slavery in the colonies at that time, her work was not overly welcome. Her family took her to England where she and her work was well-received clearing the path for her to return to success in the colonies, which began to fight for their freedom from Britain. She was freed and continued to write and be close to the family who encouraged this African girl who chose to embrace her circumstances and her new country, the United States of America, until she married another free-man who unfortunately ruined her life and led to her death and the death of their children. Nobody talks about her anymore.
Next I asked about Crispus Attucks. Nobody knew. The first death in the War for Independence of the colonies, of the United States, and nobody remembers him. Nobody remembers that the first death in the Revolutionary War was actually a free-man (granted, that was because he was a runaway slave) with good business sense and worth ethic. MLK praised him for his role in American history, in the founding and fight for America’s freedom.
I don’t have a problem with people remembering and recognizing the importance of MLK and the others mentioned at the beginning of this post because they are more recent. There are still people who remember being a part of their influence on current events. However, don’t completely disregard or discard the importance of those who came before any of us or any of our great-grandparents were alive. Those are the people who paved the way for the recent figures. There were four other men, white men, killed with Crispus Attucks. They were all buried together. The British soldiers who killed the men were taken to trial for the deaths of all five men. The final straw that led to the Revolution, the birth of America started with the death of a black man who died alongside his white, brother sailors. How is that fact so forgotten?
Americans have forgotten their history. It is time to learn again and remember.