FEBRUARY, a month dedicated to the history of Black Americans. Yes, it is the shortest month of the year; but, it is the month we will celebrate most of America's greatest accomplishments.
Too often in our school systems, we are taught the generic version of our history. We've been learning about the same Black people forever-- Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglas, George Washington Carver, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr (MLK) and Malcom X. Not to minimize any of their contributions, as they were all valiant and needed, but our history is richer and deeper than that. We are more than just slaves or stolen people in a stolen land.
To truly love yourself, you must first understand your true importance.
Before MLK, Black people were kings. Mansa Musa, king of the Mali Empire, is described as the wealthiest individual in human history. He is an African King.
How is it that we learn about Queen Elizabeth, and all 100 of the King Henrys and Georges, but we never hear about Mansa Musa or other Royal African families who still exist today? (SMH).
It is a fact. Africans started the first civilized civilization with empires such as Mali, Kush, Ghana and Songhi. The continent also formed some of the greatest educational facilities known to man; the most famous is Timbuktu.
Today, I plan to enlighten you, open your eyes and show you our history is extrodinary, fascinating and way more than just slavery.
In 1721, a slave, Onesimus, introduced the practice of inoculation. People were treated for a smallpox outbreak and given the virus itself so the body could build immunity. This is basically the way we treat the flu today.
From George Washington Carver’s invention of soaps, lotions and a host of other things; Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, who performed the first open heart surgery in 1893; Otis Boykin’s invention of the pacemaker; Lewis Latimer’s filament for the light bulb; Little Richard’s discovery of rock and roll; and, Henry Sampson becoming a pioneer in technology to create cell phones, in 1971...
Without the contributions of Black people, America would only be a step up from a third world country.
New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta and Baltimore can run high tech, sophisticated subway systems thanks to the invention of Granville T. Wood. He modernized the American train system. His invention, the third rail system, allowed trains to be powered electrically. He added a telegraph system that allowed rail cars to communicate with each other and keep safe distances while in operation. This is a device Alexander Graham Bell would use to make the modern day telephone. Granville is also responsible for making the rollercoaster. Could you imagine amusement parks without them?
Our DNA is all over the country. We truly help turn early America into a version of Wakanda, a place with highly advanced technology, medication and weaponry, yet and still...
We fail to be seen as equals, but we thrive anyway.
Black history month is a time to celebrate the legacy and accomplishments of our ancestors. Black people are like diamonds, able to shine under extreme pressure-- and where do most diamonds come from? The same place we do... Africa. The wealthiest continent on earth.
So, next time you receive blood plasma (Dr. Charles Drew); use a lawnmower (John A Burr); wear shoes (W.A. Deitz); use an elevator (Alexander Miles) or refrigerator (J. Standard); turn on the air conditioner (Frederick M Jones); or set an alarm system before leaving home (Marie Brown), just know they were all made or perfected by someone Black.
We don't have to worry about white privilege if we invoke our own Black privilege. It's time we start supporting each other, personally and professionally, to present a unified front.
I would like to give a personal thank you to all former slaves and wonderful, Black inventors who paved the way to make this moment possible. To those who are here now, and the countless number of Black creators who will come along…
Continue to push the legacy forward.
With great power comes great responsibility. Let's be great today and even greater tomorrow!
Photography Sources: Forbes and Pinterest