Black History is All-Year Long
Much of Black history has been distorted, erased, denied, and has served as a way to erase and discredit the historical presence of Black people in and around the world. One can argue from anthropological records that much of what the Greeks learned was from African wise men and adopted to create a Western Philosophical worldview that was nothing more than a stolen legacy. All people borrow from other cultures but to deny the origins of such borrowing is a crime. Today many of the historical locations depicting the great achievements of Black Americans in San Antonio has very few markers to acknowledge the existence of events, places, and individuals that not only contributed to Black History but also to the whole of American society.
We have some, but remember many of these historical markers are ones that whites accepted or approved of. We have a Carver Library, which was once a segregated library. We have St. Philip’s College which was also a segregated school, and Booker T. Washington Elementary, named after a man that W.E.B. Dubois called an Uncle Tom. We have Martin Luther King Street and Academy, but it took the revolutionary efforts of East Side civil rights activists to get a community center named after Barbara Jordan. We have Dorie Miller Elementary, but he fought for a country that did not believe in democracy for Black people. Recently, a young black high school student was quoted as saying that although he loved Martin Luther King he was “tired of hearing about him, as if Black people had no other heroes, but those acceptable to white elites.”
We don’t know enough information about all of the other heroes. We need a school named after one of the greatest scholars, W.E. B. Dubois, and a school or street named after Malcolm X and not just those that have been acceptable to racialized colonizers. We need a place or street named after Lafayette Walker, a black Civil War veteran that lived in San Antonio after the war and helped to create a powerful Black political machine in the 1800s. If we are really concerned about Black history it’s up to us to discover the reasons why it has been ignored and then take action. We must teach it to our children or they will only recycle the white supremacist interpretation of American History.
Segregation was synchronized with the education system to control the presence of blacks. We don’t need any more places named after George Washington Carver, or Martin Luther King. We need streets or places, named after Katherine Johnson, the great Apollo spacecraft mathematician, as well as Jack Johnson, Harriet Tubman, Robert Williams, Henrietta Lacks ( who gave us the polio vaccine), David Walker, Matthew Henson (the first known man to reach the North Pole), Nat Turner (the Black revolutionary that led an insurrection), the Black Canary Islanders, Ella Baker, Angela Davis, Martin Delaney, Diane Nash (a founder of SNCC), Fannie Lou Hamer, Dorothy Height, Fred Hampton, Oscar Micheaux (Black filmmaker), John Robinson (founder of Tuskegee Airman), Bass Reeves (most likely the real Lone Ranger), Ella Baker, Marian Anderson, John Brown, Langston Hughes, Ida B. Wells, James Baldwin, the black soldiers that fought for Santa Anna, Richard Wright, and any of hundreds of others.
We should be careful about naming places after Sambo figures and Aunt Jemima sell outs. We live in a changing era that seeks to reeducate the population about the importance of the history of women, blacks, Hispanics, and people of color in general. The old white supremacist version of history is being dismantled everywhere and it is up to us to speed that process up.