I’m sure there are many teachers that post on this site. And knowing the man that runs it, I am sure there are teachers that, while they don’t write on this site, read the entries. Based on that, I am sure you know it is Black History Month. Quick, think of a famous African American in history. I’ll wait. Who did you think of? MLK? Rosa Parks? Malcolm X? Jackie Robinson? We have our Mt. Rushmore of African Americans in this country that we think of. Unfortunately, we as a country, don’t know many more.
For the past few years, I have had my students learn about African Americans that they do not know about. There are many that aren’t taught about in our history books. I don’t know why. Their contributions should be right up there with the Mt. Rushmore folks. One that sticks out to me is Moses Wright. You may or may not have heard of him. But, I bet you heard of his nephew, Emmitt Till. I’m not going to waste your time telling you all about Emmitt Till. Most of you probably already know the story. If you don’t, look it up; you won’t be disappointed. Well, actually, you will be disappointed by what happens to him, but it is a fascinating story that should be required reading in history class. While most of us know of Emmitt, we don’t know of his uncle. Moses testified in court as to who kidnapped his nephew. Doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, right? This was 1955 in Mississippi. The threats against this man’s life for testifying in court were immense. He knew that he was probably going to be murdered for doing what he was about to do, yet he did it anyway. I’m not going to tell you what happened to him. Hopefully, you are interested enough to check it out yourself. Moses is just one of thousands of African American men and women who have done extraordinary things to advance the Civil Rights cause that we do not know about.
I wish these stories were brought more to light now more than ever. I teach about the Civil Rights Movement, and I see many parallels today. It has been almost two years since Charlottesville, and I still can’t believe that happened. In 2017, people were marching through streets in the United States with Nazi flags, saying awful things about black people and Jews. That is bad enough. But what really got to me is the amount of people defending them. How many times have you heard, “Yea, but Antifa is worse.” Look, I am not going to defend Antifa’s actions. Violence is violence and should never be condoned. I also think Antifa hurts their cause sometimes more than help it with the actions they take. But, no, Antifa is not just as bad as Nazis and white supremacists. Not even close. And if you think they are, educate yourself. Where have we gone as a country? How is this happening? Where do we go from here? This is why the stories of African Americans need to be told. People in this country need to understand just how awful it was for them, and in many ways, still is. I know deep down we are better than this. Let’s educate ourselves and others. Happy Black History Month.