Growing up I learned about major accomplishments such as the Civil Rights Act, MLK’s plight, etc through school. I have never taken a formal class on African American (AA) History or Culture. The main lessons I learned was by way of talking to friends and relatives. The bottom line is, the present says a great deal about the past, and growing up in South Louisiana, one does not have to talk to someone or open a book to understand or express the African American struggle. I was born in 1982 and my mother and grandmother were cotton pickers. If every time you leave the house your parents or grandparents say to you, “Boy stay out them White people yard, stay away from the police, and don’t get in no trouble,” it won’t be too long until you wonder why you are being told these things.
My understanding of AA History, has evolved as I now understand why Muhammad Ali refuse the draft, I understand that money or a “good” job will not help one escape the struggle. Sadly, I understand that protest and marching is reactive and while it may be effective, does nothing for the greater good. Finally, I understand that through education, many social issues including discrimination can be overcome.
The most effective way of passing along AA History is through formal and informal education, but not just for “African Americans.” I think as African Americans we either have the message or will get it as I did. Again, I was not offered AA History is elementary or high school. Even though, many would say I am in deserving of AA History. I say bring it on, but for real change it has to be for all.