There is no more powerful force than a people steeped in their history. And there is no higher cause than honoring our struggle and ancestors by remembering.Lonnie Bunch, Founding Director of the African American Museum of History and Culture
Last week we explored the first two challenges identified by Lonnie Bunch to passing on African American history to our youth and community as a whole. If you need to catch up you can click HERE before proceeding.
In addition to the challenge of forgetting and the challenge of preserving a people’s culture, African Americans also encounter the challenge of maintaining community which we’ll now get into.
The challenge of maintaining a community
The transient nature of communities makes it difficult to maintain common cultural values and beliefs which bind us together as a people. It is imperative that we find ways to maintain ties to one another especially for our children. Their sense of rootedness requires efforts on behalf of parents and the efforts of other concerned adults to create mechanisms that promote connections and gathering spaces where we unite around what we share in common as opposed to things which keep us apart. Churches, social clubs, civic organizations, extracurricular school activities are a few examples of ways we can and must connect our children and ourselves to the cultural and spiritual wealth and support of the African American community.
This bring us to the final challenge of this discussion which is related to inspiration.
The power of inspiration
In order to achieve greatness you must first have role models who define what it takes to ascend above your circumstances and reach heights no one thought you could attain. Our history is full of stories featuring heroic effort and tremendous sacrifice to pave a road to freedom and upward mobility for future generations. The life of a Benjamin Banneker whose mathematical genius and skills as a draftsman contributed significantly to the construction of the residence of our Commander in Chief. The contributions of naturalist and professor Georgie Washington Carver saved the agricultural economy of the south iby teaching farmers a better way to grow their crops. Fannie Lou Hamer proved that no one can deter you from having your say for justice when you make up your mind to be heard. Malcom X proved you must stand for something bigger than yourself. Katherine Johnson refused to be bound by the limitations of the Jim Crow south and helped a nation land on the moon. Barack Obama gave truth to the saying for a black child that you can even grow up to be president.
These are but a few of the unlimited number of examples we can use to inspire our children to rise to the greatness in them. The overarching challenge is to ensure we pass this rich legacy onto our children in ways they can understand and draw meaning from to spark achievement in their own lives.
My husband was told by a third grade teacher that he would never achieve his goal of becoming a lawyer because of his poor handwriting. This only made him more determined to achieve his goal which led to a successful career as an attorney including arguring cases before the State Supreme Court of Georgia. Some children are denied opportunities for rich educational experiences simply because some adult determines they are not worthy, capable or fit to participate. The cruelty of judgement and words that can never be taken back assault too many of our children every day.
It is imperative that we equip our children with weapons to fight back and protect their minds, bodies and spirits against the forces that would make them less than they can be. The day may come when your child is under attack and you have to call out to them as Queen Mother, “Tell them who you are! The question is will your children be equipped to respond in the affirmative and seize the day?
Every Monday you can meet me right here and on TheWRITEaddiction where I contribute various tips and tricks for helping all you parents and early childhood educators succeed in preparing children to excel in lifelong learning. You can also follow me on Facebook and Instagram and subscribe to my YouTube channel for plenty of free resources.