REFLECTING ON BLACK HISTORY

BLACK HISTORY MONTH in America is a time to take a look back at the difficulties that blacks faced in a country whose founding fathers decreed was a place where all men were created equal. Inasmuch as we were created equal, we haven’t always been treated that way. On this the last day of BLACK HISTORY MONTH, I wanted to take time out to share a few BLACK HISTORY facts.

*A grad student at the University of Texas in Arlington has found a rare new poem written by the first black published writer in America, Jupiter Hammon. In his first published book, Hammon referred to slavery as the will of God. That was in 1760. In this new poem, he refers to it as a man-made evil. Though Hammon was the first black published writer in America, a couple of my favorite black poets are Maya Angelou and Langston Hughes.*

*Virginia Key Beach was designed as a unique vacation spot strictly for blacks in 1945. Built in Dade County, Virginia Key Beach was the answer to Florida’s whites-only beach problem pre-civil rights. Prior to its establishment, NAACP activists staged a “wade-in” at nearby Baker’s Haulover Beach, which was whites-only. Although the organization had hoped for a spectacle and arrest, the city officials refused to acknowledge their request and decided to address the issue with segregation. That prompted the birth of “Virginia Key Beach, a Dade County Park for the exclusive use of Negroes,” in 1945.*

*After more than 100 years, the U.S. Census Bureau will drop the term “Negro” from its race description and use the term black or African American. The term Negro was first used in the 1900 census, replacing the word “colored.”
The term “Negro” originated with the Portuguese and Spanish explorers who used the actual word for the color black in their language to describe Sub-Saharan African people. Although in the first census in 1790, the categories were: “free white,” “all other free persons” and “slaves.” Though Negro has come to be an offensive term to some in the black community, it is not offensive to me.*

*Yesterday, President Obama presented the unveiling of a magnificent 9-foot statue of Rosa Parks in Statuary Hall on Capitol Hill. This year marks the 100th birthday of the civil rights icon. The statue is the first of an African American woman in our nations’ Capitol.
On Dec. 1, 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested in Montgomery, Alabama for refusing to give up her seat on a municipal bus to a white man. Her arrest sparked the Montgomery bus boycott and other boycotts around the country. Rosa Parks was called, the mother of the freedom movement by many.*

*Professional stone mason August Williams was one of only two African American constructors that built the Martin Luther King Memorial at the National Mall. Williams was a masonry student of New Orleans who was taught to do everything the old-fashioned way, by hand. He worked as an on-call minute-man before taking on larger products like Arlington Cemetery and the National Museum of the American Indian.
August Williams came out of retirement to work on the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial. Williams “made a call and made them an offer they couldn’t refuse” on the project. He believed that it was necessary for an African American stone mason to work on the statue. Upon arrival at the memorial site, Williams shed a tear when the reality and magnitude of the project set in.*

KUNTA KINTE JUST COULDN’T WAIT…

I received an email earlier today informing me how slack I’ve been since I haven’t posted anything on this site in a few days. Truthfully I have tried. Here’s the deal. On my last post I told you about the Slave Gravesite that my baby brother, Nivek had found out about. My plan was and still is to go to Virginia soon, just for the experience. Well… Nivek just couldn’t wait for my visit. His birthday was this past Saturday and I received an early morning call informing me that he was at the grave yard. He took a number of pictures that I have been trying to post but have been unable to do. They are forthcoming, so bear with me as I get this worked out. In the meantime I have to share something AMAZING with you.
Here is a 10 year old Brazilian kid that will blow you away with his rendition of AMAZING GRACE.

WHERE IS KUNTA KINTE?

I got a phone call last night from my very excited baby brother. Well, he’s not really a baby any more but my baby brother nonetheless. He was extending an invitation to me, to come to visit him in Fredericksburg, Va. so that we could go out to find Kunta Kinte. Yes, that Kunta Kinte.
Alex Haley first introduced us to his great, great, great grandfather many years ago in the made for television mini-series, Roots. There are some who think that Kunta Kinte is a fictional character, yet Kunta Kinte was real.
Kunta Kinte’s grave is located at what is now Loriella Park in Spotsylvania Virginia. In the back of the park there is a frisbee golf course, and off in the woods by the second hole there is an old slave cemetery. It is not specifically marked as the grave of Kunta Kinte…but it is widely regarded by locals of the area to be the location of his grave.
My brother used to live very close to that area and now he has come upon the information that Kunta Kinte is buried there. This is a trip that I plan to make soon.
Though we may not find the actual grave where Kunta Kinte is buried, we’ll have a terrific time trying. And I can’t imagine the emotions that will surface being on what I consider as sacred ground as we hunt to find Alex Haley’s great, great, great grandfather’s grave. To be continued………

PARENTING 101

I had a conversation yesterday with a co-worker. As we were talking, something came up about his 9 year old son acting out and speaking inappropriately to him. I interjected that he needed to immediately get a handle on that situation. In 100% of the cases where kids are acting this way, I blame… the parent. Kids cry out in many ways for attention and too many parents allow their kids to continue to act out. At an early age, parents should instill in the child what is proper and correct. There are evolving responsibilities that a person learns throughout life, and if those tasks are not learned at the critical points, it becomes more difficult. Parents must realize that they are not a buddy but a person who is due respect and obedience. This must be made clear from a very early age.
The parent that neglects to foster this type of parent/child relationship will soon regret it. I know of a lady right now who has serious problems with one of her now adult children simply because she failed to establish appropriate boundaries during the child’s early years. She now blames the child for the blatant disrespect that is shown. I contend that this all could have been combatted had the parent established proper parameters much earlier in the child’s life. I also remember a friend in college who told me that his mom was an attorney. He said that she gave him everything that he wanted and none of what he needed. He said that he needed her time and love. This caused him to resent his mom. Parenting is hard but rewarding work. Make sure that you are not taking shortcuts that will be detrimental to both you and your child.

MICHELLE OBAMA

With not many more days of BLACK HISTORY MONTH remaining, I had to recognize a woman who epitomizes strength. There have been many (and I do mean many) insults hurled her way because of the color of her skin. She has managed to still stand with the grace and style that so many couldn’t muster even on their best days. She is the 1st black First Lady of the United States of America. There is much more to her than just the title of First Lady of the United States of America.
Michelle Obama was born on January 17, 1964 in Chicago, Illinois. She attended Princeton University, graduating cum laude in 1985, and went on to earn a law degree from Harvard Law School in 1988. Following law school, she worked at a Chicago law firm, where she met her husband, President Barack Obama. The couple married on October 3, 1992. As first lady, she has focused her attention on current social issues.

BENJAMIN SOLOMON CARSON

We are still celebrating BLACK HISTORY MONTH. Today I’m saluting a great human being. If you ever want to be inspired, take a look at the life of BENJAMIN SOLOMON CARSON. And he happens to be a black man…… Be inspired!

Ben Carson is one of the most famous and respected doctors in the world. Since the 1980s, his surgeries to separate conjoined twins have made international headlines, and his pioneering techniques have revolutionized the field of neurosurgery. Almost as important is that Carson has become a role model for people of all ages, especially children. Although he works thirteen-hour days and performs hundreds of operations a year, Carson makes time to spread his message that anything in life is possible, regardless of what color a person is or where he is from. Carson speaks from experience. He went from the inner-city streets of Detroit, Michigan, to the halls of Yale University, to director of pediatric neurosurgery at one of the most prestigious hospitals in the United States. In 2004 Carson was awarded the Healthcare Humanitarian Award because he has “enhanced the quality of human lives … and has influenced the course of history through ongoing contributions to healthcare and medicine.”

REMEMBERING WHITNEY

One of the greatest singers that ever stepped behind a microphone, died on February 11, 2012. Whitney Houston will live on in the hearts of millions for years to come. One of the things I loved about Whitney was her ability to deliver a song with the necessary style and finesse. If she decided to sing a song that had already been covered by another artist, forget about it. The song at that point belonged to the ultimate songbird Whitney Houston. She had many songs that I absolutely loved. I will leave you with the lyrics to one of my favorites. It is called Miracle. Make sure that you’re not throwing yours…….away!

MIRACLE
How could I throw away a miracle
How could I face another day
It’s all of my doing I made the choice
And today I pay my heart is full of pain
How could you understand the way I feel
How could you relate to so much pain
Seems as though nothing can comfort me
So today I pray that someone should listen
For nothing should matter not when love grows inside you
The choice is yours there’s a miracle in store
How could I let go of a miracle
Nothing could ever take its place
Thought I was looking out for myself
Now it seems the pain is all that I have gained
I wonder if I could be your miracle
I wonder if I could spare you the pain
Seems as though nothing will comfort me
Lord less today I pray that you should come listen
For nothing should matter not when love grows inside you
The choice is yours there’s a miracle in store
Nothing should matter not when love grows inside you
The voice of love is crying out don’t throw our love away
There’s a miracle in store…….. for you.

COMPLIMENT SOMEONE TODAY

Too often in life we saturate ourselves with ourselves. I know far too many people who keep their radio dial locked on station WIIFM (What’s In It For Me). Everything is about them (or so they think). I have a friend and in almost every conversation, she makes it about her. It doesn’t matter what the subject, she brings herself into every conversation. We can be in a conversation about a recent movie, a good book, a frog, it really doesn’t matter; she is going to somehow make it about her. I often ask her the question, “why is everything always about you?” And of course she laughs.
When is the last time you took time out to compliment someone else and not have the focus on yourself? According to Webster’s Dictionary, a compliment is an expression of praise, congratulation or encouragement.
There are many who suffer from low self- worth and it’s amazing how something as simple as a compliment would work wonders in their lives. I think we all need to feel that sense of love from someone else. And I’m not talking about being phony either. Far too many people see the good, the beauty, the excitement in others but wouldn’t say that to them if their life depended on it. But… don’t let that person die. It’s incredible how nice and sweet and kind and thoughtful the deceased all of a sudden becomes. Isn’t that backwards? That person would have loved to hear that they garnered such praise. Valentine’s Day is Thursday but you can get an early start. Show some love today. Give someone a compliment. It‘s amazing how a compliment does wonders to a person’s sense of hearing.