With the blessings of APOOO and Blogginginblack, I’m reposting an article I wrote for APOOO’s In the Limelight to help celebrate Black history month and Black literature. Each day in February a different author is posting an article, and they have been FANTASTIC thus far. Gwen Bolton, Donna Hill, LaConnie Taylor-Jones, L.A. Banks, Bettye Griffin…Get on over there and read up on the articles.
I’m reposting here because I’d like for you all to comment and help add on to the list I started. Sooooo, if enjoy the article and don’t be shy. I can’t log on from work, but I’ll be by in the evening to answer your comments.
Through My Daddy’s Eyes
I moved over the summer from Chicago to Phoenix. My parents came down to visit me a few weeks ago for a break from the blizzards and down right nasty weather they were having in Central Illinois, and also to visit their favorite middle child. Nothing out of the ordinary there. They’ve visited before and will visit again, but this time was quite different. I made a discovery of something I should have known, but never truly occurred to me.
I had a box of history books setting beside the kitchen table with the top off—I’d intended on taking the box upstairs to the bookshelf in my bedroom and yes the box is still in the same spot—and don’t get me started on the boxes in the garage. Anywhooo, my dad doesn’t really read novels or even non-fiction books. He’s more into technical guides, financial magazines and such.
I walked through the kitchen and he was sitting at the table with his back to me. I didn’t pay him any never mind. Everything was good. I walked back through the kitchen to the front of the house maybe an hour later and was shocked to see him still there in the same spot. Sooooo being the loving daughter I am, I asked him what he was up to—okay, so I’m nosey.
He turned around with the excitement of a child on Christmas morning. He began telling me stories about Blacks from the Old West and showed me the book he was reading—yep one of my history books. I have a nice collection of Black history books. He was going on about how he knew our people had done more than pick cotton… Yes, he’d “heard” stories, but here they were in black and white with documented proof. I saw this pride as he poured through the books, and I literally wanted to cry.
This is SAD in so many ways. My father is only 64 years old and is well educated, but what education did he receive. He had a great job, is retired and living well, but doesn’t know much more about our history outside of the usual Black history facts put on television or the radio.
Truth be told, my parents taught us about our history, but it was family history. How we could succeed because those before us in our family have fought the fight and paved the way. If they could make it through slavery, through Jim Crow, through riots, then we have no excuse. But I wish he had known we as a people did more than be oppressed. I don’t blame him. Information is only becoming readily available, and my parents did an outstanding job with what they had.
Every February I start seeing request regarding what good Black history books are out there. I’m Black 365 days a year. We should care about where we come from and where we are going every day. And for those who read this who aren’t Black, you should also know our history because it is yours also. The world would not be as it is without Black accomplishments.
Black history month is GREAT. Use it as a time to get started down that path of knowledge. Remember our parents and grandparents who don’t know.
Here are a few books to get you started.
If you don’t read non-fiction, read Beverly Jenkins’ Historical Romance Novels. Yes I said ROMANCE. She bases her novels from events, people, places in our history and gives references in case you want more information. You learn our history in a FUN way. You don’t even know. Really. When you finish, you’ll want to know more.
Now onto Non-Fiction
Sex and Race by J. A. Rogers—This is actually a series and tells of Blacks throughout the world through history and tells you were to find the supporting documentation. In Volume I you’ll learn about England’s Black Queen and a whole lot more.
Atlas of African-American History by James Ciment—I LOVE this book. I bought it for my children but we all enjoy it. This actually starts out in Ancient Egypt and covers Africa. Think about it. African History is ours. This book is easy to read and also filled with lots of maps, time lines, pictures…Fantastic child-friendly without talking down to adults book.
The Destruction of Black Civilization: Great Issues of Race from 4500 B.C. to 2000 A.D. by Chancellor Williams—I won’t even lie to you. This is a HEAVY read but worth it.
The Black West by William Loren Katz & Black People Who Made the Old West by William Loren Katz—These two books have quite a bit of repeat information, but I still like them both. They are easy reads.
Black Women of the Old West by William Loren Katz—If you haven’t figured it out yet, I like William. LOL. This is a short book and shows Black women have done more than be mistresses and bed warmers to the slave holders. This is also an easy read and very child friendly.
Empak publishing also puts out a series called A Salute to: Then whatever they are saluting. For example A Salute to Black Scientist and Inventors. Or A Salute to African Kings and Queens. These books are short, easy read, excellent for young children.
Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage by William Loren Katz—How many of you brag about that one drop of Indian blood you have? Well, here is a place to start learning bout our connection Native Americans.
Remembering Slavery: African Americans Talk About Their Personal Experiences of Slavery and Emancipation by by Robin D. G. Kelley (Foreword), Ira Berlin (Editor), Marc Favreau (Editor), Steven F. Miller (Editor)—I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this book because it is written from interviews with former slaves. Many of the interviews had been recorded and I believe you can order the recordings. I haven’t read this in quite a while. Anyway, former slaves tell their accounts. And before you say slavery was such a long time ago, my granny can tell you about former slaves she knew, so it’s not too long ago.
Welllll, that’s a good start. Go learn about our history and share the knowledge.