Know Thy History: Know Thyself, Part Two
By Wayne Sebamurti Gentry Presented by Omni-U Virtual University
At its core, "Black History Month'' represents an educational vehicle for the acquisition and transmission of Self-Knowledge from an African-centered perspective. Preserving the knowledge of one's own culture and history is an absolute must for the survival of a people. Without a knowledge of our African Self, we as a people, will journey through life ignorant of who we really are and hopelessly incapable of fulfilling the destiny of our people on this earth. The important issues upon which our attention should be focused, in our celebration of "Black History Month,” are: Remembering and re-claiming our African Culture and History, and Re-establishing African-Centered Education.
It was because of Dr. Carter G. Woodson’s desire that our people come into a deeper awareness of our own profound culture and unparallelled historical contributions to humanity, that "Black History Month" came into existence. Therefore, as we celebrate Black History, we must- first and foremost- focus on our African origins as a great people who, as free people, came to the land, now known as America, "before Columbus. Let us expand our study, beyond the mere remembrance and memorialization of a few of the courageous African Americans who struggled to make the world acknowledge our essential human rights, to the ideas and principles that made our people great.
Year after year, we tend to concentrate on highlighting the selected biographies of a short list of notables who are constantly recycled and set forth as the greatest "Credits to our Race" as though becoming an American "hero" is the most that we, as descendants of African people, can ever aspire to be or to do. The necessity to adjust our focus notwithstanding, we must never forget- or allow to be forgotten- the fact that many of our Ancestors were part of the collective and persistent efforts to have our humanity acknowledged, respected and appreciated. Their actions were precipitated by the horrific acts of dehumanization and enslavement of our people- practices which depended, mainly, on the deliberate and consistent denial of African people as human beings.
It is incomprehensible that we, who were among the first people on this land, were re-defined as "property" by the European late-comers. It is incredible that the unspeakably inhumane destruction and death, that had been visited upon us for centuries, continues to this day. But, it was inevitable that these atrocities-and others- would be met by resistance from our Forebears, among them: Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Fannie Lou Hamer, Ida B. Wells, Nat Turner, David Walker, and a legion of others- many of whom remain nameless- who never accepted European domination .
We must take care, during this celebration, to avoid limiting our attention to a growing list of African Americans who were the"first" or "the only one" of us to accomplish certain feats, i.e., win significant contests; receive particular accolades or awards; or, invent devices or products that improve the living conditions, not only of African Americans but, of all human beings. It matters less how many things we create or how much we contribute to the world, than that we acquire true self-knowledge, from an African-centered perspective. Bereft of such knowledge, we will continue to suffer from mental and other- more subtle forms- of enslavement. And, as a consequence of being estranged from our history and culture, we will remain without a true sense of "identity, purpose, and direction".
It is culture that shapes the consciousness of a people and provides them with a functional human identity. Dr. Woodson observed that African Americans were fundamentally suffering from a condition of "cultural disorientation" which, in turn, sets the stage for self-alienation aka self-hate. We will continue to be at odds with ourselves and each other, so long as our "knowledge of Self" is not in alignment with our own African culture and native African history. The absence of this knowledge reduces us to mental and virtual forms of slavery from which we must liberate ourselves.
Dr. Woodson sought to aid us in this liberation by offering a means by which to reconceptualize and reclaim our own African consciousness and identity. Thus, it is incumbent upon us, as descendants of African people, to rediscover, to generate a love for, and to learn how to embrace the knowledge of our complete African heritage -including our distant ancestors who were responsible for giving birth to the establishment of all civilizations the world over: High technology, High culture; the invention of writing; the Discovery of the laws of Mathematics, and more. Knowledge of the Laws of Astronomy, Philosophy and Spirituality were all birthed on the continent of Africa by Black, African people. We must reserve time, before, during, and after this designated period of celebration, to give attention to and highlight the history that was ours from the beginning.
Long before Europeans came to this land- as well as during the centuries in which our labor was stolen in order to create America- our list of Great Ancestors continued to grow from: Zoser; Imhotep; Ptah Hotep; Akhenaton; Queen Nefertari; Queen Hatshepsut; King Narmer; Amenhotep; Piankhi; Shabaka; and innumerable others who were the originators of human civilization. Our legacy has been stolen and attributed to the Greeks and other non- Africans. Hence, we are mis-educated in European- Centered institutions the world over.
It was Dr. Woodson's intention that initiating "Negro History Week" would introduce a means by which we, African Americans, could put an end to our reliance on “mis-education” by assuming the responsibility for learning the whole truth about our true history. So, let us give right attention to and make right use of the purpose of this celebration by continuing our study of Black History, and claiming it as our educational vehicle for the acquisition of self-knowledge from an African-centered perspective. Hotep.
 Ancestor Dr.) Ivan Van Sertima,"They Came Before Columbus". ( See Also "Before the Mayflower" by Ancestor Dr. Lerone Bennett, Jr.)
 Ancestor Dr. Chancellor Williams, "The Destruction of Black Civilization"
 Dr. Haki Madhubuti, "Poet Urges A&T Students to Step Up"-Editorial- greensboro.com
 "Stolen Legacy" by George G.M. James