As we recognize Feb. as Black History Month, it seems most befitting to expound on the accomplishments of Carter G. Woodson who is heralded as the father of Black History Month.
Woodson was an African-American, the son of former slaves, author, journalist and the founder of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. In 1912 Woodson was the second African American to graduate from Harvard University with a doctorate in History; subsequently, he dedicated his life to the study of African-American History. He worked earnestly to ensure that black history was taught in schools and acknowledged by scholars. He said that, “Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.”
In The Mis-Education of the Negro, one of Dr. Woodson’s numerous books and publications he wrote, “When you determine what a man shall think you do not have to concern yourself about what he will do. If you make a man feel that he is inferior, you do not have to compel him to accept an inferior status, for he will seek it himself. If you make a man think that he is justly an outcast, you do not have to order him to the back door. He will go without being told; and if there is no back door, his very nature will demand one.”
A closer examination of Woodson’s commentary reveals some very interesting parallels to black lives. It has been determined by many in society that black on black crime is an inevitable principle. With the latter being such a pervasive idea, concern over the preservation of blacks is minimal. The educational system in America is still unequal, so starting out, a black child can be made to feel inferior. Once the child understands that he or she is an outcast from the predominate society, they can continue to (figuratively speaking) arrive at the back door of America: And herein lies Dr. Woodson’s prophetic vision, as this back door contributes to the marginalization and an inferior status of blacks in America today—be it crime, low self-esteem, unhealthy behaviors, or a mis-education.
On Feb. 6, 2016 three black men beat a 64-year-old man in a Detroit liquor store. The victim was using a cane and the cane was knocked out from under him as he was shoved to the floor. He was given a sucker punch while on the floor, as the trio fled the scene (WDIV).
On Christmas Eve, 2015, police say 33-year-old Anthony Tolson was ordered out of his Chevy Trailblazer and shot to death on the eastside of Detroit. He had just left a Christmas Eve church service (WWJ/AP). Charles Cox, a black man, has been charged with Tolson’s murder. Cox and his accomplice left Tolson in the street like a bag of trash.
Josh Landon of Fox 2 News reported a 7 year old girl was shot to death, and another girl, 8, was wounded after being shot at a home on Detroit’s west side during a holiday party. The kids were playing with Christmas toys on Detroit’s west side. Assistant Police Chief Steve Dolunt stated that a father at the home had several children from different women in the dwelling.
The father said that one of the new girlfriends got into an argument with an old girlfriend and it got heated. A short time later, Deputy Police Chief Steve Dolunt said, someone came back, got out a vehicle and fired four to five shots through a picture window. All parties were black.
(Candice Williams, the Detroit News: January 7, 2016).
Moreover, the sexual assaults by blacks against blacks keeps Minister Malik Shabazz pounding the streets of Detroit in order to flush out the perpetrators, as well as being a constant sentinel for the community. He is head of Detroit’s New Marcus Garvey Movement/Black Panther Nation. Minister Shabazz is fearless in his mission and has dedicated his life fighting for equal treatment of African Americans. His visibility and labor will be a positive declaration on the pages of black history.
At the same time, the educational composition in Detroit strikes an inferior cord in the nation and the educational environment greatly impacts black youth. Some of the schools’ interior conditions cited in a lawsuit by the Detroit teachers’ union include black mold, bacteria, freezing cold or overly hot classroom temperatures, rodent and insect infestations, exposed wiring and falling debris. Learning in such environments is unacceptable in the “greatest” nation in the known world.
The connection between illiteracy and incarceration has been a long proven concept—it takes the idea of mis-education to an all-time high.
§ 85 percent of all juveniles who interface with the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate.
§ More than 60 percent of all prison inmates are functionally illiterate.
§ Illiteracy and crime are closely related. The Department of Justice states, “The link between academic failure and delinquency, violence, and crime is welded to reading failure.” Over 70% of inmates in America’s prisons cannot read (Begintoread).
How we have arrived at the present state of affairs can be understood only by studying the forces of historic settings, according to Dr. Woodson. [Conditions of present day] can be determined by what has taken place in the past, and in a careful study of history we may see more clearly the great theatre of events in which the Negro has played a part (Woodson).
Dr. Woodson’s proverbial back door has many pathways. As the father of Black History, he admonishes his children by reflecting that “The Negro…easily learns to follow the line of least resistance rather than battle against odds for what real history has shown to be the right course”. Moreover, real history brings pride and dignity in knowing one’s forebears and the knowledge of their accomplishments—henceforth, following the right course.
On this day in Feb., do we as a people stand for what Dr.Woodson deemed as Black History Month, or do we stand at the back door?
Woodson, Carter, G. 1933. The Mis-Education of the Negro. Association for the Study of African American Life and History.