The significance of commemorating the first African-Americans to accomplish things…
by MARVIN REDDICK
We have been inundated over the course of our lives, especially during Black history month, with the deeds and accomplishments of African-American firsts. This of course is a good thing. But before we consider the reason(s) we commemorate these great Americans, let’s be clear on what it is not. Jackie Robinson didn’t break the color barrier in baseball because we finally got good enough to play with the white boys. Thurgood Marshal didn’t become the first Supreme Court Justice because we finally found a black person smart enough to hold the position. President Obama didn’t become the first African-American President because never before in the history of this country was there a black person worthy of the job.
The reason that black firsts came so late in history is because and only because of the system of white supremacy in this country was designed to prevent it by any means necessary! That means it was illegal in most cases; systematically prevented in other cases; and if these didn’t work you were just killed by the cowards hiding behind the white sheets.
Why is this important you might ask? Because of the old simple adage, “take thee knowledge, but also take understanding.” One without the other can be misleading and confusing. You see, our children are very logical beings. They are going to self-rationalize things that are not properly explained to them. So, without understanding, common sense would tell them that there must have been something wrong with black people for being so slow to achieve certain things.
So, it’s okay to explain to your children that the racist practices perpetrated against black people, by white people, were the reasons that we had to struggle and fight so hard to accomplish things that white people took for granted. Now don’t get me wrong, I like white people, they taste like chicken. (Pun intended) but those that subscribed to these racist practices had no problem telling their kids that we were cursed to be servants because Ham knew of Noah’s nakedness. They created nursery rhymes like eny, meny, miny, moe, catch a nigger by his toe…to mock us, and they published fables like Little Black Sambo, to propagate immorality in black people. And young people, we had to read that crap at school while some of the white children snickered!! Whew! I hope I’m reaching somebody!
So, today, let’s commemorate the accomplishments of African-American firsts for the magnanimous achievements that they were. And every time we, of any race, think have it hard or that we can’t overcome some obstacle in our way, let’s be motivated by those that overcame impossible odds to do what we can do today with just a little hard work.
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