Carter G Woodson is known as “The Father of Black History,” and rightfully so. This child of former slaves, born in 1875, would use his education to become the 2nd-ever black man to receive a doctorate from prestigious Harvard University. He used his education to awaken the world to the successes of the Negro, penning a dozen books over his lifetime, the most recognized of which is, “The Mis-education of the Negro”, in 1933. Though we live in a time, 85 years later, evidence of the miseducation of Africans still is rampant.
To this day, the African’s role in making contributions to the world stage is largely overlooked. (They still make movies about European ancient Egypt!) If you don’t believe that, just ask yourself where you got most of your knowledge of black history from? Not out of school, I’d bet: but you became so enamored with this information which had been kept from you, once you found a sliver, you devoured it and do so to this day. I can proudly say that this is my experience. Most of my black history is “self-taught.” Unfortunately, many colleges are now removing African studies programs from their curriculums, even some of our HBCU’s!
Woodson, so determined that Negro history be included in every facet of our educational system, created Negro history week back in 1926. By 1976, it became “Black history month.” I harken back to my elementary school days to insert a Woodson quote here: “When you control a man’s thinking, you do not have to worry about his actions.” We briefly went over all the majority approved Negros, like, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jackie Robinson, Jessie Owens, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, and the like. I am taking nothing away from the tremendous contributions of any person mentioned above. But never did we learn about Woodson’s friend, Marcus Garvey, one of the fathers of Pan Africanism, nor Malcolm X, or Nat Turner! Never did we learn about what any of these great people stood for! We were only taught about them in the context of oppression, as if that’s our only plight in life as Africans! I never learned about one great black civilization! Some went as far to say that there never were any in world history!
Our thinking was being controlled! We were taught only a ‘certain type’ of black person was worthy of mention…and very briefly. Woodson once said, “The mere imparting of information is not education.” We have to examine a people’s life and sacrifices to understand it in a cultural context. It seems today there are certain things we ‘think we know!’ You’ll hear many black folks say, “The ancient Egyptians were black!” That’s true! But what does it mean in the context of our own cultural pride and awareness? If the KMTs were intelligent enough to construct buildings that lined up to within fractions of an inch of constellations and structures that have stood for 5 thousand years, why did so many of us run from math and science in school? If being able to write well and speak well is so essential to life, why are many black kids who do just that ridiculed by their own people? One’s ability to speak well shouldn’t cancel their blackness. We have been so miseducated that ignorance is worn like military stripes and education, in many cases, is avoided! I know young men who can’t cite one book they’ve read that wasn’t assigned in school, but they’re sure they’re going to be the next great rap star! Wait, you are a living poet, but you don’t read, so you don’t even know how to use words in a sentence or the definitions of certain words? MISEDUCATION!
This society has convinced many of our young men that their only way to glory is athletics, entertainment, rapping and criminal activity! Entrepreneurship, building your own schools, factories and other businesses to serve yourself and your communities: NOPE! One of my dear college instructors always mentioned this in his class, “Economics of Black Liberation.” I also saw Dr. Umar Johnson on video as he spoke of a time when blacks were vocationally trained in high school. We’d leave high school with viable skills that could provide a good living for the possessor of that skill for a lifetime. Our focus now is only on ‘book-smarts’ education, rather than valuable skill sets like, plumbing, brick masonry, wood-working, electrician training, etc., so these programs have been eliminated from our schools! Education should include these skills as well. Everybody isn’t cut out to be a brain surgeon! Now, how will we get these skills?
In part, because of this paradigm, what’s happening to the man of our culture? Many have no skills, no education (partly because they don’t see themselves in it.) He’s becoming worthless, and more importantly, he sees himself as worthless! His woman doesn’t value him. His children don’t value him. Potential employers don’t value him. The law doesn’t value him. He values little or nothing because he values not himself! Do you know anyone who fits this description? I end with this cautionary quote from the late Dr. Woodson. “If a race has no history, if it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world and it stands in danger of being exterminated.” Make sure your young ones, ESPECIALLY YOUR BOYS, get properly educated BY YOU, for themselves on our history, our legacy, (your family story. If you don’t have one, make it up! Other groups lie about their importance all the time!), our strength and determination…our value, or it might be too late!
Bro. Eric Clemons