By Gwen Lang Jones
A great philosopher once stated “If you don’t know your history, you are likely to repeat it.” With this in mind, I reflected on my past, a similar path for which many of you have traveled.
As a little Negro girl born and raised in the south in a cesspool of overt ignorance, bitterness, hatred, and outright racism, I was taught to love God, to do unto others as I would have them do unto me, and I was also taught invaluable techniques for survival in such a horrid environment.
Along the way, I was victimized by the Colored and white water fountains, riding in the back of the bus, having to use the bathroom prior to going downtown to shop, because there may not be a restroom to accommodate me, eating before leaving home or being certain to carry a sandwich along to prevent inevitable hunger pains, as we could not enter a restaurant or be served at a lunch counter. Those adjustments were necessary, due to the unjust laws in our “America the Beautiful.”
I can remember so very well, when I would witness blatant racial discrimination, express my sentiments very quietly or swallow my pride and not reference it at all.
I believe in and support our Constitution as the cornerstone of our democracy,
To embrace our allegiance, and hone the spirit of equality,
To be ever fair, ever good, and vehemently devour hypocrisy;
And, prohibit its inhabitants from tainting its beauty with obscure immorality.
Although many of our laws have been modified to be held in high regard,
There is yet, an enormous amount of toxic minds that employ a reckless disregard.
It has been avowed that it is no longer necessary to celebrate Black History Month or to sing the anthem, “We Shall Overcome,” because, a Black man is President shows that, we have overcome.
Conversely, it is my perspective as a proud Black woman, that the cause for the celebration will never grow old;
And, its significance must be fervently echoed to keep it in the fold.
Perpetual racism divulges that enough is enough,
But, when I convey my discontent, I’m often told that I’m being a little too tough;
So, for better clarification, I will articulate my rationale in rhyme,
Why Black History Month should be widely respected and vigorously celebrated to the end of time;
Our life’s journey in the Motherland, allowed us a free spirit, with a yearning to learn,
Until one day, formidable acts of torment forced us to enter the door of no return;
Our arduous voyage to the Americas was unwelcomed indeed,
As determination and drive gave us the strong will to succeed;
We were arrogantly dehumanized with little to no exception,
And we were compelled to fulfill our duties without obvious deception;
With a great sense of pride among us, and a longing to sustain, We did everything in our power to simply adjust and not complain;
The struggle made it considerably difficult for immediate adjustment,
But, with God’s help, we forged ahead as we strived for advancement;
Heartfelt degradation was applied with a small degree of fuss;
Thus, it made our level of progress appear nil or highly oblivious.
Greed and profits were the main motives in mind;
And, seldom was compassion displayed in kind.
While honor, worth and prestige became the order of the day,
Hardship was a constant and was demonstrated without fair play;
The transition was stressful, an unbearable reality,
For the survivors of the voyage experienced a senseless inequity;
“They were the keepers of the Dream.”
African Americans are a strong, proud people and products of a rich legacy,
Therefore, we must never allow others to make us feel inferior, because of their incurable jealousy;
Motivation, innovation and collaboration are descriptive of our ancestral tradition,
Influenced by nobility, pride, dignity and a uniquely spiritual intuition;
We are kings, queens, conquerors, and the ultimate royalty,
And, we possess the fortitude to make all dreams a reality;
Innately our hearts ring out with kindness and love for our nation,
To be countered by hate, anger, envy and inhumane humiliation;
Historically, we have been scorned, abused and placed in a state of dismal isolation,
We have been ignored, and oft times forced into a mere brink of desolation;
We were crowned with an astonishing spirituality,
For our gifts blaze the trail with our individual genius and originality;
We laugh, we joke, we sing, we dance and we often clown around,
To be reminded daily of the ruthless institutionalized bound;
Our inborn wisdom has instilled in us our strong will to innovate,
While others feel an enormous need and absurd desire to emulate;
The enormous contributions of Blacks, in these United States of America,
Are representative of the unmitigated genius that we brought with us from Africa
We have contributed notably to this country in all areas, Education,
Sports, Entertainment, Arts, Science, Entrepreneurship, and Politics as well,
Though many deemed the transformation so unfair, they decided to rebel;
Numerous contributions by African Americans have been obviously recognized while others appeared absolutely ignored,
To crop up later as an original from where they had been intentionally stored;
The truth of who we are and why we should be revered from sea to shining sea,
Is precisely inscribed in the archives of America’s written decree;
Let us forever give honor to the works of Joe Louis, Ma Rainey, Dick Gregory, Oprah Winfrey, Althea Gibson, Bill Cosby, Malcolm X, Biddy Mason, Barbara Jordan and Fannie Lou Hamer. Also, Langston Hughes, Danny Bakewell, Jackie Robinson, Louis Farrakhan, Dinah Washington, James Weldon Johnson, Lena Horne, Jesse Jackson, Magic Johnson, Marion Anderson, James Brown, Dr. Mark Dean, architect of the digital revolution, with more than 20 patents to his credit, Maya Angelou, Michael Jackson, Denzel Washington, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Dr. Dorothy Height and President, Barack Hussein Obama, just to name a few of the incredible Black Heroes and Sheroes, and how they have profoundly impacted the history of this country.
Our job to hold America accountable for equality is a most challenging one,
But, it remains our responsibility to do our part until our freedom is won;
The time is now for all Americans to stand up for injustice, and refrain from the unprecedented bitterness that has been consistently spewed around this country for the past few hundred years.
We must acknowledge and support the courage that has been demonstrated under the leadership of our capable President Barack Obama, and give homage to his numerous accomplishments that were made in a very short time.
Namely, his focus on Health Care Reform, Housing, Education, Increased pay and benefits for military personnel, and the list goes on and on.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said that, “There is nothing in the world more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
As uttered daily from the relentless sea of bigotry by Ginrich, Limbaugh, Beck, O’Reilly, Palin and Hannerty,
Their deplorable hatred epitomizes the ultimate negativity,
And it connotes, but a sad commentary of “Our country ’tis of thee!”
Yes, the more things change, the more they remain the same,
And to eradicate injustice, we must continue to stake our claim;
The struggle for parity is constant, due to insurmountable ignorance and frustration,
That gives perpetual cause for an ongoing commemoration.
So, until the laws of justice are recognized and adhered to throughout our inflexible nation,
Let us walk together with heads held high and continue Carter G. Woodson’s Black History Month Celebration.
To be celebrated not only during the month of February on a special day;
But we must pay tribute to this laudable Celebration today, and everyday.
Copyright (c) Gwen Lang Jones 2008
All Rights Reserved