by A. Peter Bailey
(TriceEdneyWire.com)—During this gift-giving season, it’s very important that serious Black parents provide their children with at least one gift that either introduces them to or broadens their knowledge of Black History. There is a reason why White supremacists in this country voraciously opposed the teaching of our history in schools. They are well aware that a people with a deep knowledge of their history are much more difficult to intimidate and control.
I was a young adult sophomore at Howard University before being introduced to Black History. The introducer was Dr. Harold Lewis, a brilliant professor who gave me one of the greatest gifts of my life by making me ready to later meet and learn from black historians such as Dr. John Henrik Clarke, Harold Cruz and especially Brother Malcolm X.
Two of my favorite historical warriors are Martin Delany and John Mitchell, Jr. I had never heard of them before Dr. Lewis’ class. Brother Martin was what we call today a Pan-Africanist about whom Frederick Douglass is quoted as saying, “I thank God I was born a man; Martin thanks God he was born a Black man.” He traveled to Africa where he spent most of his time there in what is now Nigeria and later recruited enslaved Africans to join the Union Army. Those Black warriors played a major role in the defeat of the confederate enslavers.
Brother John in the late 1800s was the founder and editor of a newspaper based in Richmond, Virginia. This paper, the Richmond Planet, was a strong opponent of the lynching of Black men by White males. At a time when lynching was almost a sport for White supremacists and racists, Brother John wrote that the best remedy for lynching “…is a 16-shot Winchester rifle in the hands of a dead shot Negro who has nerve enough to pull the trigger.”
These are just two Black historical warriors that our children need to study, learn from and act on since some of their positions are just as relevant today as they were in the mid to late 1800s. Other numerous warriors they need to be aware of include Mary McLeod Bethune, Nannie Helen Burroughs, Henry McNeal Turner, Paul Robeson and Fannie Lou Hamer whose contributions are included in books available in Black-owned institutions such as Sankofa in Washington, DC. These are the kinds of gifts that will provide everlasting knowledge for our children.