Tag Archives: black history

Do We Know Our History?


Yesterday one of my Facebook friends expressed his frustration regarding the fact that so many black people did not know their history. Sure they know Barack Obama is the first black president, and they know Oprah, Jay Z, Michael Jordan and Will Smith, but they don’t know the people that went against all odds to secure the kind of life that so many of us take for granted.  So today I decided to post a list influential black people. I invite you to look at the list and just see who you know among these people who influenced our history. Fannie Lou Hamer, John Lewis, Marian Anderson, Thurgood Marshall, Ralph Abernathy, Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Nikki Giovanni, James Weldon Johnson, Frederick Douglass, James Baldwin, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Harold Washington, Carl Stokes, George Washington Carver, Bayard Rustin, Ernest Withers, Emmett Till, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, John Johnson, Ralph Bunch, Roy Wilkins, Malcom X,  Jackie Robinson, Sammy Davis Jr., Shirley Chisholm, Benjamin Oliver Davis, Patricia Roberts Harris, Eric Holder,  Barbara Jordan, Adam Clayton Powell Jr., Hiram Revels, Jim Brown and Douglass Wilder. So who do you know? If there is a name you don’t recognize look it up. Remember those who forget their history are doomed to repeat it.

NOTABLE ADDITIONS: General Colin Powell, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, Booker T. Washington and Earl Graves.

Ebony Magazine On Sale…A Sad Day in Black America

 0709_M-OBAMAIn July I wrote a post about the end of Vibe magazine. I noted in the post that I had just received my Ebony magazine and it was the July/August issue. I said that I wondered would Ebony be next. One of the commenters admonished me, and said I was starting rumors well now we know it was not a rumor but a premonition.  We were saddened to hear this summer that the Ebony Fashion Fair Fashion show would not take its annual fall tour. Now we hear Linda Johnson-Rice is actually looking for a buyer for the magazine. Ebony means a lot to the black community. It has been in publication for 50 years and it has chronicled so many of the big events that are part of the black experience. Ebony was there for the Civil Rights Movement, the murders of Medgar, Martin and Malcom X, the first black man to win an Academy Award and the first black man to become president of the United States. We have seen them profile, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson and the comeback of Whitney Houston. It has been our magazine addressing our issues, our tastes and our diets. John H. Johnson was the founder and he built a magazine against all odds. He knew the community was yearning to hear news about the things that mattered to them. It was there when other media thought we were invisible. Now we see black folks everywhere but that was not always the case. It was the magazine that could be found on almost every coffee table in Black America. It will be sad to see this magazine get swallowed up by a media giant like Viacom. Now we find images of ourselves everywhere, and sadly our inclusion probably led to the end of Ebony as we know it.

The Economy has Killed the Ebony Fashion Fair Fashion Show

Today we learned the sad news that the Ebony Fashion Fair Travelling Show is being cancelled. This fashion show is a part of black history. Mrs. Eunice Johnson wife of Ebony magazine founder John Johnson started this show 50 years ago. In the infancy of the show many top level designers did not even want to meet with Mrs. Johnson, but she was undeterred she would buy their pieces and showcase them at the show. Linda Johnson Rice announced “In light of the overall economic challenges that are affecting many, including our potential corporate sponsors, we have arrived at a most difficult decision to cancel (the fair’s) fall 2009 season. In the coming months, we will develop a new business model to ensure that the show is a mutually beneficial endeavor.” The impact of this news will not just affect Ebony, but it will also have an adverse effect on the black organizations that have sponsored the show to help generate funds for HBCUs, fraternities and sororities. This show also launched the careers of Janet Langhart, Richard Roundtree and Diahann Carroll.  The reality is this is the end of an era. We salute Mrs. Johnson who started this show and brought high fashion to the many neighborhoods that make up Black America.  We will never see anything like this again.

President Barack Obama Speaks to the NAACP, and Finally Thanks Them

Tonight President Barack Obama addresses the NAACP. The organization is celebrating its 100th anniversary. It is so refreshing to see and hear him thank those that brought him to this point. Far too often the President has taken the opportunity to lecture black audiences instead of embracing them. Tonight he admitted that he stands on the shoulders of giants. He says on the 45th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act prejudice can not stand. He encouraged the listeners to live out the mission of the orgainzation to “eradicate bigotry, prejudice and discrimination in the United States.  He stressed the importance of education and that is something that the NAACP has always encouraged. It was good to see him come to a group that has embraced him unconditionally. when he was running for president they were there if only working in the foreground, but today it is good to see him and them in the spotlight.

The Shared Vision of Abraham Lincoln and Barack Obama: Save the Union

When I was growing up Abraham Lincoln was a hero to black folks. He freed the slaves. That’s what I was taught and that is what I believed until my junior year in high school. That was the year I was taught US History by Mr. Leo Boughton. He affirmed that blacks were freed during the Lincoln administration, but that was not why the war was fought. The war was fought to preserve the Union. That was the motivating factor behind the conflict and Lincoln was open to compromise. In a letter Lincoln wrote to Horace Greeley in 1862 Lincoln said, “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that.” So we still rever Lincoln we know that he too was a politician with an agenda and saving the Union was the center of it. Today we see that President Obama is under fire for attempting to save the union. Our 21st century problems are different but they are every bit as crucial. If your house is on fire would you want the firemen to analyze the fire as the flames roared or would you want them to put the fire out and do the analysis afterward? I believe we all would want the flames extinguished before the analysis begins. That is the situation facing our country. Obama tried to extend his hand to the Republicans, but he was rebuffed. Somewhere along the way the concept of bipartisanship has been changed. President Obama was elected to lead so while he was open to discussion, but he was not going to get in the passenger seat and let the Republicans drive the process. President Obama had to do something just like Lincoln to ultimately save the Union.

MSNBC Father’s “Broken” Promise Another Sad Commentary on Black America


Last night Al Roker hosted this documentary that chronicled the birth of three children. All of their fathers had pledged when they were born in 1996 that they would be there for their children. Two of the three are currently in prison serving long terms and the third is often MIA, he is a veteran of the first Gulf War and suffers from post traumatic shock syndrome. After watching the show one wondered what was the point. Was it just another opportunity to bash black men or was it an opportunity to understand why they had abandoned their responsibility. Their reasons varied from their inability to keep or get a job to their dysfunctional relations with their children’s mother. At the conclusion of the show Roker hosted a roundtable discussion on the subject with Rev. Eugene Rivers, Mayor Corey Booker, Tiki Barber and two women from the field of education. They shared their own personal stories and their complicated relationships with their own fathers but no real solutions. The reality is there are not pat solutions. Each of the scenarios comes down to personal responsibilities. Being an engaged father is hard work, but once the baby is here it is the responsibility of the father to be there to offer guidance and support and there is really no acceptable reason to abdicate this responsibility. So this documentary is a continuation of the CNN special on being black in America and from the MSNBC perspective it is indeed a sad situation.

Black History Did Not Begin With Obama, and It Won’t End With Him

Today I had a light bulb moment. I was driving my daughter home from school and she told me she had to do some research on Jim Crow. She then asked me who was Jim Crow? I also drive one of her classmates home and he piped up and said he knew who Jim Crow was. I said tell us, and he proceeded to say Jim Crow was a boy from Chicago who went south and whistled at a white woman during the 1950’s. He said men came to his house and dragged him out and killed him. I told him the person he was describing was Emmett Till. What did I learn? Our kids need to know our rich history did not start with the election of Barack Obama.  We had the benefit of our parents who had lived through Jim Crow. They had personal stories to share with us that told of their personal struggles and their triumph over racism.  Our kids don’t have this in their lives and this is not being taught in their schools. So who is going to teach our children about our history? We are and we can not abdicate our responsibility. I know some people reading this will say I am teaching my kids about black history, That’s great. You can ignore this but for those of us who have not been it is time to do it. This is a wonderful time for this country but there have been other wonderful times for this country and there will be more, but we can not afford to forget our history.