Wednesday, March 11, 2015

History: What's past is prologue.

The phrase means that history influences and sets the context for the present. The quotation is engraved on the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C.[1]

As the old adage states:

If I had a dollar for every time I have been queried about where does my passion for history come from, well, ostensibly, I would be materially wealthy.

By a vast majority, I am unequivocally informed that history is BORING.

I get it

As a 9th grader who routinely snoozed away my hour long history class, I get it. History can be as entertaining as watching paint dry.

Yet as a history/political-science major in college, I don't get it. For example, I can not explain the here and now without the what happened then. Just can't do it.

My road from dispassionate to passionate student of history happened upon my meeting Malcolm X at age 15 via The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told by Alex Hailey. This book introduced me to the richness of history and opened my eyes to critically scrutinize the Euro/American HIS-story forced fed to us students.

Not that I angrily rejected this version of history -- I just realized that their were other stories, voices and perspectives

My most important take-always from master-teacher Malcolm were:

  • My history was glorious and pre-dated slavery by thousands of years.
  • I should never acquiesce to being defined by my adversary/enemy/oppressor/slave master.
  • Self-knowledge is the foundation for understanding world-knowledge.
  • Once enlightened one has a responsibility to share knowledge and help cultivate minds of the masses.
Next people ask: Doesn't learning all the African ish just make you an angry, disgruntled person?

No, quite the contrary, learning my story has uplifted my consciousness and help me embrace my humanity. I love the me that god created. And until I can embrace myself, I can not embrace the rest of the human family.

As the Honorable George Carter Woodson taught:

The thought of the inferiority of the Negro is drilled into him in almost every class he enter and in almost every book he studies.

Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.

If a race has no history, if it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the though of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated.  source

And one more thing: Even as I strive to be culturally uplifting, I reserve the right (responsibility) to protest and speak-out about injustices. So sometimes I may don the hat of angry black man -- I keep one in lock and key for as needed.

Remember: "He who controls the past controls the future, and he who controls the present controls the past"?

George Orwell.

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