Yesterday’s History is for Today’s Time by Angenita Williams

I took my daughter to see Selma.

And I’m glad I did.

While I was vaguely familiar with the march to Montgomery, I wasn’t completely well versed in it. And neither was my daughter.

We were engrossed in the movie. Both of us were lost in the action of the film. I won’t spoil it for those who have not seen it, but there are moments in the movie that you know are coming, and your body still reacts to it. Your hands go to your face in the astonishment and at the sheer treatment of Black people. I am not sure if I would have been able to be alive in that time – living in fear because I happened to be born with a skin tone deeper than the “majority.”

The real deal occurred after we left the theatre.

She liked the movie. But she asked me about the other people who played a part in that march – John Lewis, Diane Nash, Andrew Young. When I asked her did she know those people, she stated no. My mouth fell open.

I followed up with who did she know that had anything to do with the Civil Rights Movement. She stated MLK, Malcolm X, and Rosa Parks. When I asked if she new anyone in history, she stated she knew who Madame CJ Walker and Harriet Tubman were. She knew the Black Panther Party. She knew Nelson Mandela. She knew Ruby Bridges and the Four Little Girls.

No WEB Dubois. No Langston Hughes. No Frederick Douglass. No Mary McCleod-Bethune. No Nat Turner. No Marcus Garvey. No Jean Toomer. No Dizzy Gillespie. No James Baldwin. No Nina Simone. No Harry Belafonte. No George Washington Carver. No Zora Neale Hurston. No Ralph Bunche. No Thurgood Marshall. No Shirley Chisholm. No Little Rock Nine.

I felt as if I failed as a parent. How can my child not know these people? These very important people helped our nation recognize that Black people were people. They shared their Black experience with the world. Some in that group helped pass laws that affected the lives of Black people. Some broke the barriers to become first to stand against the establishment. Some helped uplift, and inspire generations of Black people to fight for the right to simply exist.

I understand that schools, nor this nation as a whole, figure that Black history is not a part of this nation’s history…but it is. And it is very important that we give our kids the tools they need to learn about where they come from. Honestly, if they have no idea where they come from, how can they progressively move forward?

My daughter and I had a very in depth conversation about history. I showed her some books I have on the shelf to give her more insight. We watched YouTube. We Googled.

We have to keep our children equipped with the knowledge of our history. The Revolutionary War happened. Slavery happened. The Civil War happened. Reconstruction happened. Sharecropping happened. Jim Crow happened. Vietnam happened. The World Wars happened.

And Black people were involved every step of the way. Our kids need to see that. Although we were an oppressed people, we were smart. We figured out ways to communicate when the slave master told us we couldn’t. We took the scraps they gave us and turned them into a fine and distinct cuisine. We were trendsetters. People love our culture and our swag.

Our kids need to know that. Our kids need to understand that we can walk with heads held high and be proud of where we come from.

After all, this nation was built on the backs of my forefathers and my foremothers. That is very important to note. For without the contribution of Black people this would not be a nation worth being.

I vow to make it a point to place some knowledge in my daughter’s path. In doing so, I will learn more as well.

If you have not seen the movie Selma, I encourage you to do so. It is so relevant for today’s time…

Happy Birthday MLK!

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1 comment so far

  1. Lisa D on

    Your words have never been more true. By us living in Atlanta and near Montgomery Al it is in the plans as my daughter gets older to show her and teach her up close and personal our black history. Savannah Georgia has a lot of black history as well. Of course I will be learning alot myself.


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