Each February, we Black folks take four weeks to celebrate and delve into our rich history. This takes many forms including fancy dinners, fashion shows, special exhibits in libraries/museums, wearing t-shirts bearing the likeness of famous Black leaders and thinkers, lectures and much more. An entire online industry has emerged via YouTube featuring debates, interviews and presentations from college trained and self taught scholars regarding African history. Thanks to groups like the Amen Ra Squad and the House of Consciousness, more Black youth are exposed to the work of John Henrik Clark, George G.M. James, Ben Yosef-Jochanon, Ivan Van Sertima, … Continue reading Black History isn’t our Corpse, it’s our Resurrection!
Whenever we endeavor to write history, and to use historical developments to generate and define the context of contemporary developments, we truly engage in a necessary yet complicated task. The task is necessary because we understand that all present-day circumstances and events find their roots in those preceding them. It follows that identifying and analyzing these historical events allows us to better understand and engage things taking place today. What makes this task complicated is that people record and analyze history. These people do not exist in a vacuum, but are connected to social classes, privilege (or the lack thereof) and … Continue reading Black People: STILL America’s Best Kept Secret?
Historical approaches, like most other things, are subject to change and nuance. Of course history itself (past events, activities and individual expression) doesn’t change, but the manner in which we interpret it, our aim in researching it, or the manner … Continue reading Enough of the Feel Good Black History!
Many regard The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin and The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois as classic literature. Indeed, both works are referenced, purchased, and deemed socially relevant several years after their original publication dates. Furthermore, … Continue reading Removing the Veil: The Humanizing and Cautionary themes of Dubois and Baldwin
One weekend in 1980, for an infraction I no longer remember, my mother disciplined me by banning me from watching television, or going outside. I could handle The TV prohibition; what crushed me was not being able to see my friends, play basketball at the local schoolyard, or enjoy the sunshine and people in Harlem. Bored out of my mind, and tired of writing poem after poem, I desperately searched for a new activity that would help my adolescent prison sentence go by faster. I thought of the box which stood high atop my bedroom closet. The box belonged to … Continue reading Keeping Our Ancestors Ideas Alive
We Live in an Encouraging Time! Notwithstanding the continued legacy of white supremacy, anti-Black propaganda, and racial oppression, we live in a time where we have more access to our true history more than ever before. Black intellectuals unearth more pieces of our historical jigsaw puzzle via books and articles. The Internet search engines point us to pictures, documents, and multimedia clips to supplement the information provided even in the most deficient social studies textbooks and mainstream media outlets. Yet history is broad, and even with these encouraging developments important people, information and experiences remain obscured in our historical narratives. … Continue reading Five Important Overlooked Figures in the Black Liberation Struggle
Note: My formal educational background is in sociology, education, and Black Studies/History. I’ve worked as an educator and youth development specialist for over two decades. In this capacity, I’ve helped to create a middle school, created overnight college tours, presented life management workshops, conducted … Continue reading Urgent Message to Youth Throughout the African Diaspora
The first two decades of the 20th Century constituted a watershed moment in African American history; Approximately 750,000 southern Blacks migrated to Northern cities seeking better economic opportunities and refuge from the brutality of the Jim Crow South. Joining them was a large number of Caribbean migrants; In 1917 the successful Bolshevik Revolution in Russia led to the creation of the Soviet Union which inspired oppressed people around the world; Proud African-American soldiers fought bravely in WWI believing their sacrifice had earned recognition as American citizens. This “New Negro” attitude which developed among Black people in the post WWI period … Continue reading Race, Africa, and Empowerment for the “New Negro”: Contrasting the Racial Ideology and Political Programs of Marcus Garvey and Cyril Briggs
The “New Negro” cultural renaissance of the 1920’s was as much a social consciousness as it was a literary and artistic movement. Writing about this sensibility among Blacks, Alain Locke characterized it as being race-conscious, assertive and uplifting. Of course, such sentiments appeared in black literature prior to the 1920s; Nineteenth Century writers like Frances Ellen Watkins Harper and George Moses Horton for example, captured similar themes in their writing. Several socio-economic factors facilitated the New Negro cultural renaissance, and explain its appearance during the 1920s: the depression of cotton-based southern agriculture due to the boll weevil; blacks’ large-scale migration … Continue reading Exploring the Theme of Racial Uplift in the “New Negro” and “Black Moses”
The literary movement known as the Harlem Renaissance produced a proliferation of Black prose and poetry that demonstrated both black writers’ ability to master traditional literary styles and devices, and to define and articulate a distinctly black cultural aesthetic throughout the 1920s and 1930s. Participants in the Renaissance – motivated by themes of black uplift, racial pride and solidarity – privileged and came to expect writing that promoted these themes. Works that did not overtly illuminate and challenge American racism or those that were perceived to illustrate black inferiority or folk culture often were criticized as being irrelevant. This article … Continue reading Not Another Protest Novel: “Their Eyes Were Watching God” as an Unconventional Literary Narrative