The contributions of African Americans in history would amaze you. From the red light to the gas mask that saves soldiers’ lives, black people were there.
History has taught us that Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin. I hate to tell you, my friend, it was not he. It was his slave. Because slaves could not hold a patent at that time, the master took the credit.
Have you ever heard of the Fisk Jubilee Singers? They traveled the world to raise money for the university. They sung for kings, queens and world leaders around the globe. Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball, but 90 percent of the players in the Negro League could easily have done the same. Satchel Paige was the best pitcher to ever throw a baseball.
I consider myself lucky for taking black history in elementary school. It gave me a self-confidence in myself as a black child. I played violin because I heard a Noel Pointer album. I played football because I saw Jim Brown run all over the Detroit Lions at Tiger Stadium. If they could do it then, I could do it, too.
The Negro divisions in World War II were decorated for battles they won. The Tuskegee Airmen have the best record for escorting bombers on missions in Europe.
I was not taught these things in school – but I was lucky. I had an aunt who was a librarian in the Metro school system. She was at John Early Elementary by the projects in north Nashville, where she worked for most of her career. She'd tell me, “There is nothing like watching the light bulb go off over a child’s head. You know they got it.” I am going to try to turn the light bulb on over your head.
Here is a list of black people that have done things they did not teach you in school:
Oliver Tambo – president of African National Congress, 1960-1990. Tambo was a leading figure in promoting international opposition to the apartheid regime in South Africa.
Frederick Douglass – a former slave and one of the most prominent black Americans of the 19th century
Sojourner Truth – a black woman abolitionist and women’s rights campaigner. She gave a famous extemporaneous speech, “Ain’t I a woman?” The speech supported equal rights for blacks and women.
Mary Seacole – a nurse from 1805-1881 who was on the same level as Florence Nightingale
Dr. D. B. Todd – a surgeon in Nashville who performed the first open heart surgery
Kofi Annan – the 17th Secretary General for the United Nations who was widely admired for his patience and diplomacy
Deratu Tulu – first black Ethiopian woman to win Olympic gold in the 10,000 meter
From Crispus Attucks to Barack Obama, black people have been there and done things to mold our world. Share this information with your children. You have a library in your hand or on your desk at home. Make a game of it; they won’t realize they’re learning.
Anthony G. is a vendor of The Contributor.