It’s always Black History in my house. My wife and I deliberately point out inventions and advancements that black folk developed or had any input into. Our book shelves, all five, are littered with books like Nathaniel McCall’s “Makes Me Wanna Holler” to “the Souls of Black Folk” by W. E. B. Dubois. Children’s books with titles like “Brown like Me”, and Spike Lee’s “Please, Baby, Baby, Please” can be seen in toy bends and cubbies throughout the boys’ playroom. Granddad didn’t have the luxury of reading books that reflected him as a child; many died so that any of else could live in the world, literary or otherwise.
But this faith that they had, where did it come from? Who gave it to them? No lights were coming at the end of bats held by those blinded with tunnel vision supplied by hate. No end was in site for Sara, Johnny, or Buela to hold onto a little while. How could a race of people be so raped, and yet remain dignified? How could their heads be held in an upright position to sustain manhood when their sons were being bullied by day, and lynched by night? How could their homes be warm with love when their daughters were being stripped of all innocence, and beaten like defiant men in the streets? How could they have mustard up enough bravery to believe in something called equality, justice, liberty, and Civil Rights?
Even as I write this and try to capture the essence and spirit of a people, our people, black and white, as clever as I know how, I’m frustrated. Its depth is simply too potent, and its importance to enormous for me to pontificate on a meaning. Some people don’t understand why I get so angry at ignorance. They don’t understand why I consider it insulting when someone says that they don’t vote. I recognize that I’m but four generations removed from slavery, and two generations removed from “slavery by [other] names”. Though I contemplate what my thoughts, actions, and reactions would have been in those times, I thank God that I never had to meet a tyrant like “Jim Crow”. I thank God that my children will hear, and learn about his reach, but never see grandparents stained with his accusations, or bloodied by his ignorant rage. Hope.