Black People : ANOTHER SIDE OF BLACK HISTORY MONTH

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ANOTHER SIDE OF BLACK HISTORY MONTH

[Col. Writ. 2/16/03] Copyright 2003 Mumia Abu-Jamal

The idea of Black History Month has always filled me with
ambivalence.

On the one hand, there is understandable pride in the
accomplishments of one's ancestors; people for fought long and hard
for their place in the sun, against monstrous odds, and indeed,
against American white supremacist terrorism. They used every
means imaginable to sustain themselves against a system that was
predicated and dedicated to their spiritual, psychological, and material
destruction. When one studies the life of Harriet Tubman, or other
freedom fighters like her, it is almost impossible not to be moved.

On the other hand, the institutionalization of Black History Month,
by corporate, and political America, has resulted in a kind of 'dead
history', by which I mean the uses of advertising and even stamps, to
promote historical figures, many from the distant past, who portray a
'safe' side to a history that was, and is, anything but safe.

This has resulted in the promotion of Black historical figures as
one-dimensional icons, or advertising gimmicks, that reduce them
to familiar names, but little else of substance. Thus, Martin Luther
King, Jr. becomes the icon of choice, used by everything from
insurance companies to dry cleaners to drum up business among the
burgeoning black middle and working class. It has contributed to
the *selling* of Black history, as something that looks, almost
endearingly, to the past, as if there is not an awful lot of Black
history to be made today. There is also a deep, troubling bourgeois
factor in popular black history that seems to remember the
well-to-do, yet ignores those who struggled from among the ranks
of the poor, who didn't wear clean suits every day, and didn't think
that the vote represented the end-all or be-all of the Struggle.

I speak of the forgotten ones; those people who fought for freedom
and Black Liberation, not at news conferences, or in editorial board
meetings with bored journalists, but in the fields, in the shops, in
the streets, among the people.

In this new kind of bourgeois, safe, corporate Black history, people
such as these make no real appearances. It's almost as if these
agencies strive to create a kind of 'black history lite', that will
not disturb the sleep or the stomachs of white Americans.

This is a shame, and a disservice to both white, and black
Americans, and all who really want to know about the history of
this country.

It is therefore fitting to recall those names of people who lived
in the hearts and minds of their people, and who, in their own way,
fought for freedom, but are rarely mentioned in most history books,
and won't be seen on U.S. postage stamps (at least anytime soon,
for capitalism, if anything, learns how to co-opt almost everything
for profit, eh?). Here are a few:

*Ola Mae Quarterman*: Long before the famed Rosa Parks refused
to take a seat in the back of a Montgomery
, Alabama bus, Ms.
Quarterman, a bright, sensitive 18-year old girl boarded a bus in Albany,
Georgia, and refused to move when the white driver ordered her to.
She responded, "I paid my **** ten cents, and I'll sit where I
please." When the segregationist-trained driver began to wag his
finger in her face, she quite rationally responded, "Get your ****
finger out of my face." What happened next was in some ways similar
to what happened in Montgomery, and in other ways different.

Ms. Quarterman was convicted of violating the segregationist
laws, and sentenced to 30 days in jail. Dr. King even brought his
fledgling organization down to Albany to respond to a campaign
that was beginning to brew against this outrage. The differences were
critical, however, for in Albany, the movement was divided. The
president of the local college where Ms. Quarterman was enrolled
expelled her, and the local support was so splintered that a
disgusted King quit the city for home. Ms. Quarterman, alone, and
without support, drifted into despair and depression. Her life
options severely restricted in the apartheid South, she suffered
what was diagnosed as "paranoid schizophrenia", committed to
a mental institution, where she presumably remains to this day.
(Question: Was *she* schizophrenic, or was the *system* of racial
segregation and white supremacy?). Her life teaches us, not the
impotence of resistance, but the necessity of united action in
resistance to social wrongs. She was right; those who failed to
support her, for any reason, were wrong.

There are, of course, others whom we will doubtful glimpse on U.S.
postage stamps; like Margaret Morgan, a fugitive captive who fled
to Pennsylvania in the 1840s, and was seized by a slavecatcher,
Edward Prigg under the draconian Fugitive Slave Act of 1793. Legal
scholars may recognize the slavecatcher's name as a famous caption
in the case, *Prigg v. Pennsylvania* (1842), but most Americans, if
asked the identity of Ms. Morgan, would probably ask, "What picture did
she star in?" She was at the center of the case, for her freedom
hinged on the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court. 'Justice' Joseph
Story (of Massachusetts) held on the side of the slavecatchers, and
gave judicial blessing to the return of Margaret Morgan to a bitter
bondage in the South -- *with her children--the youngest born into a
'free' state*. The lesson? That freedom proceeds from the struggle
for freedom, not from the courts of the rich and influential.

Will there be any postage stamps to honor the historical
contributions of Dr. Huey P. Newton, founder of the Black Panther
Party? To Ramona Africa, the courageous fighter and resister who
survived an urban holocaust on May 13th,1985? To George (or
Jonathan?) Jackson? To Ruchell Magee-- a brilliant jailhouse
lawyer whose work has led to the freedom of over 40 young(er)
men, but who is perhaps the longest-held Black political prisoner
in the Americas? To the great Seminole warrior, Coacoochee
(also called "Wild Cat") who fought for Red and Black freedom
from the American slavers, and his brother fighter, John Horse
(Coacoochee & Horse fought over 400 American outlaws, soldiers
and bandits in 1851 in northern Mexico, and beat them, with 60
Seminole warriors)? We think not.

Black History isn't 'safe', it's challenging, and troubling, and
speaks to the lives we live now, under the illusion of "freedom".
It
ain't MLK alone, but the many who followed, and the many who did
not.

Why not jettison Black History Month, just as Black History Week
was jettisoned?

Why not a Black Liberation Month? That would concentrate our
minds, not only on history, but on the sometimes painful lessons
of history; but more importantly, it would point us to the undiscovered
land that beckons us all -- the future.

Copyright 2003 Mumia Abu-Jamal
 

$$RICH$$

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some very inlighten infomationalized Historical side we should feel
and know the affects of , their are so many not highlighted or talked
about thankz for sharing this ..........
 

OldSoul

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Righteous Thanks Here!!!!

Great Post, Info!
Salute to Mumia!
 

Ralfa'il

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Mar 25, 2005
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Too often Black History is limited to the American experience.

Are we not a people as old as humanity itself?


I think Black history should stretch all the way back to our glorious kingdoms of Egypt and Ethiopia.


Some may see this as a little controversial, but I think that once we've gained a measure of power over our educational system and the media....we should erase the part of our history of being enslaved.

Just block it out as if it never took place either in the Americas or in the Middle East.

If our children ask us how we got here, we'll tell them we've ALWAYS been here.

Other great peoples have denied embarassing events in the past to bulster their self esteem and racial pride, why can't we?
 

info-moetry

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Ralfa'il said:
Too often Black History is limited to the American experience.

Are we not a people as old as humanity itself?


I think Black history should stretch all the way back to our glorious kingdoms of Egypt and Ethiopia.


Some may see this as a little controversial, but I think that once we've gained a measure of power over our educational system and the media....we should erase the part of our history of being enslaved.

Just block it out as if it never took place either in the Americas or in the Middle East.

If our children ask us how we got here, we'll tell them we've ALWAYS been here.

Other great peoples have denied embarassing events in the past to bulster their self esteem and racial pride, why can't we?


Peace & welcome back,

- First, what is embarrassing about slavery??

- 2nd your post is a contradiction in and of itself...........you say you want to take the knowledge all the way back to Egypt in regards to 'Black History Month" - Yet, at the same time you want to block out slavery here and in the East & tell Our children that we were always here - then how could you teach them about Ethiopia & Egypt?? Do you think our youth is stupid that they would not make the connection & see that there has to be a missing link..................[/B]

Did you not find any positive in our brother Mumia's message?????????????

BLOCK OUT SLAVERY??
that is impoossible as it is etched in our hearts, minds & souls...............

- to think this means you are not even worthy of your own existance!!
- to say it means you have no respect for those who allowed you to come into existance........................

Just block it out as if it never took place either in the Americas or in the Middle East.
- maybe our ancestors should come back and just block you out as if you never took place................

If our children ask us how we got here, we'll tell them we've ALWAYS been here.
- now you want to lie to our children? Is this not what is being taught to them in the "killing fields" (educational system)?? You sound like your slave master..............

- Ralf - You almost sound scared to be who and what you are

Your post here is a shame & very very disrespectful to our ancestors. I don't know how you can look yourself in the mirror as a black man after saying what you just did Ralf...............This sounds like the reasoning of a selfish pale Arab who wants to erase all memory of the Black race & claim it for himself in the name of ALLAH and his PROFIT.............

I would not have believed even YOU could stoop to this level of UN-conciousness............

Ase'
 

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