“History is a clock that people use to tell there political and cultural time of day. It is also a compass that people use to find themselves on the map of human geography. History tells a people where they have been and what they have been, where they are and what they are. Most important, history tells a people where they still must go, what they still must be. The relationship of history to the people is the same as the relationship of a mother to her child.”- John Clarke
I love to research and learn about my predecessors. Not only those famous ones we all know of, such as Benjamin Banneker, George Washington Carver, Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, Ida B. Wells, Malcolm X and Dr. Martin L. King, but also those who never made headlines, from ancient Africa to present today America.
Learning history and understanding the struggle of my predecessors always helps me to identify their values, the high expectations and tremendous hope they had for those of us that followed them.
Learning this history gives me a deep sense of responsibility to be excellent, to make no excuses, to make every aspect of my life a matter of personal responsibility, and most of all, to give glory to God, just as they did.
It saddens me how too many of us, as Black Americans, teach history with a spirit of hatred and division, for that is not the spirit our ancestors operated in.
That is not the spirit any one of us has a reason to operate in, for not one of us knows their struggle personally. We have no idea what it is to sweat in chains or to fear lynching if we vote for a Republican candidate.
We have nothing to forgive, for those sins were not committed against us. We do, however, have much to ask forgiveness for, as we have all but wasted the sacrifices of our predecessors.
Our ancestors are the ones who suffered the above-stated atrocities, but they did not want you and I to perpetuate a cycle of hatred towards others. They didn’t even hate those who oppressed them.
They wanted us to love everyone, to respect everyone, and to never allow the limitations of others to become our own.
Don’t you remember what Dr. Martin L. King said: ”
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. ”
They wanted us to compete and create our own opportunities, rather than expecting anyone to do it for us.
They wanted government to leave us alone rather than to become surrogates parents for us.
They wanted us to continue their legacy of strong, close knit families rather than 72 of Black women raising kids alone!
They often worked three jobs, if they had to, with only a little education, so we could have an opportunity to have a real education and make something of ourselves.
Expectations were high!
Parents didn’t allow their children any excuse or dropping out of school. They would say: “You either going to school or you are getting out of my house. You are going to do better than did!”
When a child might occasionally talk back and ask “Why?” The answer was universal: “Because I said so.” and that was it!
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us”-Hebrews 12:1
We have a responsibility, in light of the legacy of faith, excellence, courage, and determination our ancestors left us, to be better.
I pray we take serious inventory of ourselves and make a quality decision, each one of us, to leave a better legacy for our children and our children’s children than what we have done for the past three generations, where we have seen record levels of incarceration, infant mortality, illiteracy, Black on Black crimes, co-dependency on Government, and deaths caused by HIV/AIDS.
All of it deeply rooted in our own lifestyle choices.
I pray, indeed, that, we open our eyes.