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AfriGeneas Writers Forum

Re: The End of the Black American Narrative

Hi Richard:

You asked, "Now forgive me for what i am about to write but what did they teach in the" Black Studies ", and if they taught or studied these men ,their times and the hundreds of other thinkers and doers in the pre civil war period and the pre depression era,why did the students not spread the message???"

Segregated schools and all black colleges, church Sunday schools, especially in the South always taught our history. Black Newspapers, magazines, and journals were also a source for studying our history. If you look at the archives at historically black colleges, student papers, and teacher’s curriculum were filled with references to our rich Americas legacy dating back to the 1400's. Besides the boldface names like Douglass, Wheatley, Washington, our segregated communities had role models from doctor, minister to teacher. Our grandparents and ancestors passed a lot of this information to their children and family.

This study of our culture and history wasn't called "Black Studies" then. I can't answer why students did or did not spread the message. The impact of the 60's blotted out so much of our history...it was sometimes an angry era...quick to point fingers at Booker T. Washington and others of his thinking...labeling them as Uncle Tom's. It destroyed two generations of jazz appreciation by labeling traditional artists like Louis Armstrong as a Tom and proclaimed that only Blacks could understand jazz. It created an angry touchstone for African history. Only African warriors and blood-thirsty maroons (all males of course) were worthy of study...while ignoring the legendary history of the US Colored Troops and the female and male contrabands who helped to liberate their fellow slaves and end slavery. But at the same time the 60's and 70's re-awakened our desire to learn more about Black history. The landmark study by Lerone Bennett "Before the Mayflower" presented a history that explained our ancestor's place in shapin the Americas.

Bennett like many historians showed us through their research that our history wasn't hidden or lost. If we wanted to read more, we had to get off our duffs and head to the library, bookstore or archives.

You shouldn't have to apologize for your question, Richard, it's on point. The students, teachers, historians did pass it on. But a lot of our people prefer to embrace the myth of a helpless passive slave history, rather than learn about "How We Got Over."

It's our duty here at AfriGeneas to research, write and share our family histories. No ONE family history is the same. They're a fascinating collection of stories that were/are integral chapters in the history of the Americas.

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18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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