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Archive for the tag “african american history”

A People In Search of a History

One night, as parents often do, I was assisting my youngest son with his assignment. It was Cultural Diversity Week at his school and all of the students were required to research their culture and heritage and bring back information to present to the class and to put on display. All I could think of was “here we go again.” My reaction didn’t mean I didn’t want to participate, but rather I had a difficult time figuring out HOW to participate. Although this was my third child doing this activity, it still wasn’t any easier this time around.

I imagined children with German, Chinese, Russian, and Italian ancestors bringing family recipes and foods that represented their countries or displaying pictures that they could easily print from the Internet, but what were we going to do this year? Of course my son picked Africa as his country, but I still couldn’t think of what to do.

Africa is a large CONTINENT comprised of several countries. Each with its own culture, language, beliefs, traditions, foods. Where and how was I going to direct my son with this project? I probably put more time and energy into this project than other parents would have, but this supposedly simple task bothered me to my core. I know my heritage is rooted in Africa, but from where? From which country? We can all speculate, but very few of us can actually say with confidence, “I am of the Yoruba of West Africa” or “of the Zulus of South Africa” or “of the Nubian tribe of North Africa” or “of the Somalian people of East Africa.”

And here we are, a people stripped from our own heritage, culture and history trying so hard to celebrate a condensed version of it because that’s all we know, because that’s all we’ve been afforded to know. Yes, I do enjoy learning facts about what African Americans have done for this country and the strides that we’ve made, but my history begins long before the feet of the ancestors of my great-great-great grandma Classy Ann Miller hit the shores of America. Now that’s the type of history I’m searching for.

Voice of a People – Free Angela Davis and All Political Prisoners

Like most people, I enjoy a great movie. I don’t need all of the glitz and glam of a blockbuster. Just give me a great story, solid acting and an interesting plot and I’m there.

That may be why I’ve come to enjoy documentaries so much. I love learning about people’s life experiences and view events through a historical perspective. Or maybe it’s just a documentary that gives the story behind the story…I like that too.

To celebrate this genre of films, I’ve started to look for documentaries that speak to Black History and have come across some great gems.

The first documentary I’d like to share is

Free Angela Davis and All Political Prisoners (2012)

Free Angela Davis and All Political Prisoners

If you think you know all there is about Angela Davis, “black radicalism,” and American Idealism, you probably don’t. Her raised black power fist and perfectly coiffed afro became the picturesque symbol of black pride, but the story behind the image had never been told in such a poignantly way. This documentary gives voice to Angela the woman, the human and tells the story of her trial in a way that you will never read about in history books.

Free Angela Davis and All Political Prisoners is a must-see documentary because it resonates beyond the cultural boundaries of Black History, and beyond the coastal boundaries of American history. This is world history at its finest because the entire world was watching.

Thousand Words Thursday

“A picture is worth a thousand words.”

1968 Olympics Black Power Salute

John Carlos (right), Tommie Smith (center) and Peter Norman (left) at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City

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