Going in Circles, Part I
By Dr. Gloria Latimore-Peace
Presented by Omni-U Virtual University
Let me admit, at the outset, that I love Ancestor Dr. Barbara A. Sizemore with all my heart and that, from the very first moment I heard her speak, I bonded not only with her message but with her spirit as well. In time, I was fortunate enough to become her student in the Master's degree program at Northeastern Illinois University's Center for Inner City Studies where I eventually became a member of the faculty. I am still following in her footsteps and, were I to take credit for being named Professor Emerita at UNI, I would say that I have been blessed "to stand on her shoulders."
But, I dare not make such claims since Dr. Barbara Sizemore remains light years ahead of most of the educators with whom I have been acquainted, by whom I've been taught, or about whom I have read. I am grateful that I was able to have her as my guest on The H30 Art of Life Show, "Going in Circles," just prior to the publication of her book, "Walking in Circles: The Black Struggle for School Reform."
There she was, sitting across from me, as fierce an intellectual warrior as she had ever been although she was in the process of transitioning because of a terminal illness. However, her focus was not on her declining state of health. instead, it was centered on finishing her book" Walking in Circles." In one of her speeches, she reiterated its thesis which was the subject and opening statement of the one cited here: "Black people still don't get it!"
If you take a moment to think about it, you will come to realize that this is a sad state of affairs for any people- at any time- most especially in times like the ones we've been in for way too long. But, what is the "it" that Black people still don't get? And, what is inferred by underscoringing the "it" with "still"?
As a devotee of her community, the welfare of its people- especially its children- was her priority. As a consummate educator, she demonstrated that devotion in word, deed, and sacrifice. She recognized and stood up to the forces that threatened our progress and well-being- including the personnel and the institutions that continue to devise and implement ways to stunt our growth. It must have been challenging for her, as well as for others who came before and/or were her contemporaries, to continue to struggle while fighting - not only our legions of adversaries-but even us, the ones for whom she continued to fight until she joined our Ancestors.
Knowing that some of our people "still don't get it" was not a deterrent for Dr. Barbara - nor can it be for any of us who are serious about our survival and development as a people. When she declared, "Black people must take care of their lives and those of their children," she was speaking, not only as a mother but, also as an educator whose life was centered on paying attention and working to eliminate "what's happening to our children in the public schools." It was the height of irony that, although there were many Black teachers in the public schools, she should have been among the few- Ancestor Bobby E. Wright and Ancestor Hannibal Afrik foremost among them- who was aware of, and took action against, what Useni Eugene Perkins identified as "the social oppression of Black children."
Yet, despite the risks all of them took and the sacrifices each of them made, our people "still" don't seem to get the message that we must take responsibility- not only for the "content of our children's characters" -but, equally essential -for the content of their education.
Baba Hannibal Afrik was among the community leaders who fought for "community control of the public schools" because he understood that it is virtually impossible for the Black community to influence, not to mention to take responsibility for, that which is not under our control. That is a large part of the "it" that we "still" don't seem to get. Concomitant with that "large part," is the fact that the vast majority of the children enrolled in the public schools are Black and children "of color." Thus, it stands to reason that the Community whose children occupy those classrooms are major stakeholders and therefore, must play a major role in what is happening to our children via those enterprises.
Needless to say, we could not have known "what was happening" in those classrooms unless we had people like Dr. Sizemore, on whom we could rely to keep us informed. Or, unless there were clear indications then- as there are now- that what is happening is not what we, as a community, have predetermined as the outcomes we want to see.
But, what should be the educational goals for our children and our community? What ought we seek to have our children learn? What is our role relative to the educational processes that affect not only our children but our community as well? Do we want our children to go to school to be "educated" to get a "good job" working for others so that they can only become another generation of consumers?
Or, do we want them to learn to "do for self," i.e., to become producers and, thereby, to "make a living" as Ancestor Dr. Carter G. Woodson urged us to do in his landmark work, "The Mis Education of the Negro".
The roster of Distinguished Black Ancestors, many of whom were educators like Dr. Woodson, includes: Dr. Barbara A.Sizemore, Dr. Donald Smith, Dr. Margaret T.G.Burroughs , Dr. Jacob H.Carruthers...and psychologists such as Dr. Bobby E. Wright, Dr. Patricia A. Newton, or Dr. Amos N. Wilson, et al. Each of them did everything in their power to provide the answers to the foregoing questions. How is it that, despite all of their efforts, we are still "going in circles"?
How can it be, that after all this time, this blood, this sweat, these tears, Dr. Barbara could bemoan the fact that we "still don't get it." We still don't get the fact that "nobody is going to save us, but us" - not because we are not loved by the Most High in whose image and likeness we are expressed. But, more likely than not, "we don't get it" because we keep forgetting who we are and Whose we are. And, even worse, we continue to abdicate our responsibility to teach these self-evident truths to our children.
Thus, having lost the Way, we keep "walking in circles". "We have to get it together, Black America," Dr. Sizemore declared, if we are serious about improving our overall conditions in America". We have to get it together so that we can liberate ourselves from dependency on sources that have proven themselves to be unreliable. But in order to get "it" together, we must first get together-unify- for the sake of our children and the survival of our Community. Let Us get it Together!!! If not Us, who? If not now, when? The Struggle Continues…"
 Since renamed The Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies
 "Get it Together, Black America" Lecture by Dr. Barbara A. Sizemore (Link below)
 Home Is A Dirty Street: The Social Oppression of Black Children by Useni Eugene Perkins
 Rev. Jesse Louis Jackson, Sr.
"To Barbara With Love" Featuring: Dr. Kymara Chase and Dr. Hazel Stewart.
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Dr. Barbara A. Sizemore. Walking in Circles: The Black Struggle for School Reform
Dr. Jacob H.Carruthers. Intellectual Warfare
Dr. Margaret Taylor Goss Burroughs."What Shall I Tell My Children Who Are Black?::..."
Useni Eugene Perkins. Home Is A Dirty Street: The Social Oppression of Black Children
Kiarri T.H.Cheatwood. The Race: Matters Concerning Pan Afrikan History, Culture, and Genocide
Lerone Bennett, Jr. Forced Into Glory: Abraham Lincoln's White Dream
Ishakamusa Barashango. African Genesis
Dr. Chancellor Williams. The Destruction of Black Civilization
Dr. Bobby E. Wright. The Psychopathic Racial Personality and Other Essays
Dr. Amos N. Wilson.The Falsification of Afrikan Consciousness
Dr. John G. Jackson. Man, God, and Civilization
Dr. John Henrik Clarke. Christopher Columbus and the African Holocaust
Dr. Yosef Ben- Jochannan. Cultural Genocide in the Black and African Studies Curriculum
Dr. Walter A.McCray. The Black Presence in the Bible and the Table of Nations