Da History of Black Folk

Statues of a life as a slave at The National Memorial for Peace and Justice located in Montgomery, Alabama.

Statues of a life as a slave at The National Memorial for Peace and Justice located in Montgomery, Alabama.

Shana Risby, Reporter

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Black history has been rewritten, demonized, condemned, and unknown to the American society. Often times people get uncomfortable in the discussion of black history and race over all. It arises “white guilt” and the dismissal of black history because it is sought out to, move forward and towards the future. We cannot acknowledge how great our strides as a nation have been if we do not acknowledge the magnitude of black oppression. Black history is the backbone of American history and that should be better understood.  

In most history books, black history begins with slavery. Without acknowledging the true history of black people, which is that of a culturally rich society.  

The indigenous people of Africa had developed their own mathematical system using beads and bones. Archeologist, Ann Hauzeurthe, in a CNN interview, speaks on one of the great contributes accredited to mathematical findings. The use of the oldest mathematical instrument, the Lebombo bone, was found and in the discovery of Swaziland with approximately 29 distinct markings either to track menstrual or lunar cycles. They had their own way of defining science and the world around them. The artwork displayed featured kings and queens in royalty. The sculptures were accurate depictions of facial structures and wealth. African people had their own language and education system. Timbuktu in Mali, Africa, is home to one of the world’s oldest university and libraries full of manuscripts written in the African language, Ajami. When Europeans started to colonize and invade around the 1300s to the 1800s, the people of Mali hid their manuscripts in underground basements. They were also inside of attics because of the fear of destruction and theft from European foreigners. They told stories and fables about who God was and what he looked like. The native people had a thriving culture of their own. 

Europeans invaded the African land in search for natural fertile soil, minerals, gold, etc., because they lacked the resources of their own. Instead, their land produced lead which was vital to the production of firearms. They went there with the thought of taking the lands natural resources, but soon discovered that the indigenous people of the land were far more advanced than they had imagined. Pan African Studies Professor at California State University, Funmilola Fagbamila, states that colonialism began in Africa when Europeans used military force to take over the land and disempower the people. The native people of Africa could not fight back because they lacked the weapons needed, making them easier to manipulate. In addition to the artillery brought, disease came along and caused a viral warfare that the people’s immune system was no match for.  

Biblical reference of Jesus having dark skin and hair of wool was undermined in 1508. A new depiction of a man with lighter skin and hair of silk was later painted by Michelangelo. They were told that was their new god, reprograming the African people to fit more European style customs and beliefs. The education that was once theirs was stolen and conformed into a western education system. Their culture was stripped away, knowledge was stolen, and identity was lost. 

More Europeans became fascinated with Africa and eventually the native people of Africa were put to work as slaves on their own land. When they realized they could make more money by selling the natives, America then entered slave trade.  

Stolen from Africa was not slaves. Stolen from Africa were scientists, educators, leaders, kings, queens, etc. They were all reduced to a number and a shackle. Typically, the shackles slaves were engraved with ownership messages such as “Male Black African Heathen No. 14.” It was a complete disregard of the captive’s identity, blatant dominance, and ownership of the oppressor.  

Despite being freed from the physical shackles, African Americans were still in an ongoing struggle to reclaim their identity and to move forward. Our history continues as we make triumphs throughout the American society. 

Leaders like Fredrick Douglas who educated himself out of slavery to become a free man helped pave the way for other leaders in black history. Martin Luther King Jr. was amongst these leaders advocating for the injustice of black people in the nation.  

George Washington Carver, born into slavery, was an agricultural scientist. TIME magazine in 1941 called him the “Black Leonardo DaVincil.”  Ben Carson, a black scientist, made history by being the first person ever to separate conjoined twins from the back of their head.  

Black people were not given the right to vote until 1965, but previously, in order to vote blacks had to undergo a literacy test, application processes, or turned away with force. In 2008, Barack Obama was elected into office as the first black man to serve in the White House. He was then reelected in 2012 and his achievement gave hope to people all around the nation.

Our history has been evolving. We have been rewriting what has been miswritten for centuries, while reclaiming back who we are.  

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