African-American history has played an integral role in the shaping of politics, economics, and culture in the United States. Growing up, how did you learn about the accomplishments and struggles of African Americans? Were you in a classroom? Reading a book? Talking with relatives or friends? How has your understanding or knowledge of African-American history changed and/or developed over time? What do you think is the most effective way to pass along this rich and growing history to future generations?

Randall Newsom

Growing up in the South (I was born in 1952), I was raised in a middle class home segregated from any contact with African Americans. I would hear adults talking but was more concerned, at that time, with playing and having fun!

It was 1962 or 1963 when I came boldly face to face with the hatred and intolerance present in Baker, LA. Several individuals studying at Leland Community College (then being used by the Peace Corps) from Nigeria (if memory serves me correctly) came to Baker First Methodist Church with a letter of introduction. They spoke little and broken English and asked only to observe and enjoy our church service. They were told to leave or the police would be called. They left peacefully. For a 10-11 year old boy, it was hard to understand why someone would be told to leave a Church.

I’m running out of words … Suffice, I am disheartened that a large number of Black youth today are dishonoring all those that came before them and made such strides in changing the world … so that THEY would have better opportunities.

There are many factors, I know. But my perception is that it is destructive behavior and demeaning to their ancestors.