The African schoolboy came home with a very concerned look on his face and this worried his father. He asked; “What’s wrong my child?”. The boy replied: “Father, the Missionary teacher tells us that the lion is the king of the jungle and that he is very smart, strong, and swift. However, in every encounter with the great white hunter, the lion loses every time. It seems to me that the lion should win sometime. “ The father replied: “Son, until the lion gets to the point where he can tell that story himself, he will always lose.”.
Black History IS American history. However, it is not a history that you will ﬁnd in American history books that teaches not just Americans but everyone looking to understand America and its people. The many great contributions of Black Americans are shamefully missing. You get to know people through their literature.
A people without a literature are presumed to be a people without a culture, as well as a people who are merely beneﬁciaries of other people’s contributions. In fact, they might even be viewed a non-people. Recognizing this, in what seemed to have been Divine Guidance, a distinguished group of Black intellectuals from all over the United States, as well as from the Caribbean, descended into Harlem, New York and created a proliﬁc collection of literature, art, and music. The Harlem Renaissance became known as an explosive intellectual, social, and artistic movement of African Americans who were just two generations removed from slavery. In many cases, their grandparents, and even parents, had been slaves.
During the early part of the 20th Century, Harlem became the Mecca for migrants from around the country but mostly from the Southern states. We know that it was a magnet for southern Blacks who could not ﬁnd sustainable employment in the south but few people know that Harlem attracted an educated class of intellectuals whose collected mission was to make Harlem the center of culture for a growing African American middleclass.
Although there were dozens of contributors to the Harlem Renaissance, most people are mainly familiar with the names and contributions of Zora Neal Hurston and Langston Hughes. The intellectual class in Harlem was not a wealthy class and many had to eke out a living doing menial labor while making their respective contributions. Even Langston Hughes, with a college degree, worked as a busboy and Zora, a renowned Anthropologist, worked as a maid. However, throughout the race history of this country, there seems always to emerge very concerned individual white people who aid the efforts of African Americans.
Zora Neal Hurston, A. Phillip Randolph, and James and Weldon Johnson, who gave us the “Negro National Anthem” were Floridians who well represented our state in the Harlem Renaissance.
A recent movie brought to life the story of Mary Johnson, a Black mathematician whose knowledge made it possibly for John Glen to go to the moon and back. The story of Dr. Don Shirley has also been ﬁnally told. He was a musician (and also a Floridian) in the class of Van Clyburn and Leonard Bernstein, wellknown classical musicians. Throughout the rest of the world Dr. Shirley was just as well known and much better educated, holding two PhDs, and fluent in 4 languages.
So, you see, Black History is simply the valuable missing content of American History. In spite of what many people believe, Black History Month is not a month for silly bragging about our contributions, it is a serious month set aside to set the record straight. Unlike the lion, God made it possible for Black people to tell their own story. Hopefully, there will come a time when there will be no need for a Black History Month as we would have become “One Nation Under God’s.”