Black History Month 2011

Slave men provided for their families to a greater extent than has been appreciated.  The overwhelming majority of the masters gave their slaves enough to eat but did not err on the side of generosity; and the fare was coarse and monotonous. The slaves would have suffered much more than many in fact did from malnutrition and the hidden hungers of nutritional deficiencies if the men had not taken the initiative to hunt and trap animals. "My old daddy," recalled Louisa Adams of North Carolina, "partly raised his chilluns on game.  He caught rabbits, coons an' possums.  He would work all day and hunt at night." (p486, Roll Jordan Roll)

Education: True Pioneers.
"In 1823 Alexander Lucius Twilight (1795-1857) was the first known black to graduate from an American college, when he received a bachelor's degree from Middlebury College in Vermont." (P161 Black Firsts)

"The first woman to graduate from college was Lucy Ann Stanton (Mrs. Levi N. Sessions). She completed the two-year "ladies" course and received the bachelor's degree from Oberlin College on December 8, 1850."

"Two other women also have been called the first black woman college graduate. Grace A. Mapps was the first black woman to obtain a degree from a four-year college-Central College, McGrawville in New York.  She  apparently finished in 1852 and joined Charles Lewis Reason, then recently named head, at the Institute for Colored Youth in Pennsylvania."

(Second)"Mary Jane Patterson (1840-94) was the first black woman to earn a bachelor's degree from the four-year "gentleman's" course at Oberlin College 1862. (P16 0, Black Firsts)

Black Family: Time to restore the black family.
"The fundamental importance and urgency of restoring the Negro American Family structure has been evident for some time. E. Franklin Frazier put it most succinctly in 1950."
"As the result of family disorganization a large proportion of Negro children and youth have not undergone the socialization which only the family can provide.  The disorganized families have failed to provide for their emotional needs and have not provided the discipline and habits which are necessary for personality development.  Because the disorganized family has failed in its function as a socializing agency, it has handicapped the children in their relations to the institutions in the community.  Moreover, family disorganization has been partially responsible for a large amount of juvenile delinquency and adult crime among Negroes. Since the widespread family disorganization among Negroes has resulted from the failure of the father to play the role in family life required by American society, the mitigation of this problem must await those changes in the Negro and American society which will enable the Negro father to play the role required of him." (From Chapter V. The Case for National Action 1965)

Black Family: Marriage is part of our history
"Social Organization: As among other peoples, the clan, a group of families related by blood, was the basis of social organization in early Africa.  The foundation of even economic and political life in Africa was the clan, with its inestimable influence over individual members.  Although the eldest male was usually the head of the clan, relationships were traced through the mother rather than the father.  Women were central figures in African society because they were, through marriage, the keys to appropriating land and , through their labor and that of the children they bore, the means of cultivating land." (P20, 8th ed., From Slavery to Freedom, by John Hope Franklin)

Education: (The Civil War)

"Slavery was the cause of the (Civil) war. There might have been other questions large enough and important enough to have led to a disruption of the Union, but none have successfully done so except slavery. But the North fought for union and not against slavery, and for a long time it refused to recognize that the Civil War was essentially a war against Negro slavery.  Abraham Lincoln said to Horace Greeley as late as August, 1862, "If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them.  My paramount object is to save the Union and not either to save or destroy slavery."
(PP 81,82, The Gift of Black Folk, W.E.B. DuBois)

Family: It takes parents to raise children not the village.
"I sincerely believe it takes a man to develop boys into men."

"Very few African American women are consciously aware that their son needs a positive role model, that the family, streets, television, school and church institutions come up lacking, and that a concerted effort between them and a male extended family member must actively fill the void. Until African American women admit that only men can make boys into men, and African American men become responsible for giving direction to at least one male child, the conspiracy will continue."

"Parents are quick to say, "Television is destroying the minds of our children, and I can't keep up with the boy when he goes outside."  My response is: as powerful as ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, and CABLE are, they cannot force you to turn your television set on.  If television is a problem, it is because you are not controlling your household.  If the streets are a problem, it is because you are not controlling your child's schedule.  Children cannot raise themselves, and parents should not allow television or the streets to try.  Conscientious parents create activities to replace television viewing." (PP 185, 186,Countering the Conspiracy to Destroy Black Boys, by Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu)

Dr. Kunjufu goes on to describe meaningful experiences he had with his own extended family members.

We must reject the idea that over 70% of black babies being born to a single parent makes sense. We must also reject the idea that the "village" or "extended family" can pick up the slack. That is not happening and will not happen. We can not reorder the natural order of things and expect the right result.

Now I understand we can't make folks get married. But, we can start sending a strong message that raising a child is the parent's responsibility and not that of the "village." Otherwise, we are encouraging the single parent behavior.

Education:(Parents, a historical role in education)
 "Parents have been an important ingredient in the success of schools, whatever the racial or social backgrounds of the students. But the specific nature of parental involvement can vary greatly-and has often been very different from what is believed among some educational theorists. In some of the most successful schools, especially of the past, the parents' role has been that of giving moral support to the school by letting their children know that they were expected to learn and to behave themselves.

Current educational fashions see parents' roles as more active, both on site in the schools and in such things as helping with their children's homework. Whatever the merits or demerits of these notions, historically that was certainly not the role played by parents of children at successful (black) schools in the past. Nor were parents necessarily equipped to play such a role.  As of 1940, for example, the average black adult in the United States had only an elementary school education, usually in inferior Southern schools." (Thomas Sowell, from
his book Black Rednecks and White Liberals)

The important point here is again to highlight the critical role parents play in insuring that children are successfully educated. And, their significance to this equation is not new. Nor is the fact that a parent is not well educated themselves necessarily a barrier to the success of the child.

Experts document an achievement gap that closed significantly during the decades of the 70's and 80's only to stall thereafter. I believe there is a strong correlation to (PARENTS and PARENTING) that account for much of the lag in black educational achievement. As we moved to more single parent situations, our new family models could not provide even the minimal support previously observed. That support included, at a very minimum- an expectation of learning and good behavior.

Education: Mark Twain observed "The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read."

Today's quotes will come from what I consider to be a good book. It is The Head Negro in Charge Syndrome by Norman Kelley.

In this 2004 publication, Kelly makes a stinging observation about the status of black leadership in the post civil rights era. And, he his quite blunt in his assessments. Now be warned, some of your current day heroes
will probably take punch in this book. But, I like it because it causes self-examination.

For the challenge is how can I help replicate the success enjoyed by many blacks during what Kelly describes as The Golden Age of Integration, 1970-1980.

Now, a few quotes:

"Instead, black America was given insight into white control over the black nation via the myth of Willie Lynch, an alleged white West Indies slavemaster who gave colonial Virginians a discourse, in the early eighteenth century, on how to control slaves.  Unfortunately, it is far easier for many to believe in that mythological slavemaster than to take the time to read Eugene Genovese's Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made. And that is exactly the point.  Within black political culture, we have witnessed the rise of self-appointed pseudo-leaders who are not accountable for either what they do or say, who trade in myths, fantasies, and rhetoric." P 48

"West (Cornell) is emblematic of a trend: African American market intellectuals who profit while they prophet, selling attitude.  The common practice is to do some supposedly serious work, and then dispense wisdom on subjects like hope, love and self-esteem, or write hagiographies on King or Tupac Shakur or hip-hop.  In other words, kitsch, or, since such work tends to be aimed at blacks, afro-kitch.  This has meant African American political culture has surrendered the field of public policy to black conservatives, aided and abetted by the mainstream (white) conservative movement, to set the parameters of debate on important social, political, and economic questions." P 8

"To this day, a third of black America is trapped within the walls of either unemployment or underemployment, and the new middle class that has come into existence via federally assisted programs like affirmative action may not be able to socially reproduce itself without government assistance."

"This does not mean that African Americans should forgo making demands on resources that are their rights as citizens; it means, though, that blacks have been weak in cultivating a menu of various options-protests, affirmative action, coalition politics, self-generated economic activities, etc."  PP 62,63

A good read and source of possible motivation to regain our voice and will to continue in the struggle until all of black America is truly liberated.

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