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December Black 'Our-Story' Facts
11/30/2016 1:00:40 PM

By Hakim Abdul-Ali 

The celebration known as Black History Month is observed in February of each Gregorian calendar year in the United States of America. It's generally a happening time for Black folk from California to Florida to appreciate African-American culture.

Also, this is a special time for reflective, subtle and respectful genuine remembrances of the America's African holocaust. It's "our-storical" showcase for honoring our cultural past noble greats and identifying with our present heroes and sheroes.

Black History Month is both dynamically educational and humbling engulfing, all witnessed in the same instance.The event is an anticipated occasion in Black communities because it's about signaling to all that Black heroes, known and unknown, have always been honored and will forever never be forgotten.

Joyfully, I can't wait for this month to arrive in order to observe a sense of unity among certain sectors of this country's diverse African-American communities. Black History Month to me is about never forgetting whose shoulders we, today in Black America, stand on in order for us to be where most of us are.

Those were my and your ancestors, and I'll never forget that ever-present reality in my conscious state of awareness. If you're of color, and know that our ancestors gave much untold sacrifices and immeasurable blood, sweat and tears for you and me to be who we are, then no more needs to be said other than, "Black Lives (still and always have) Mattered."

I'm a brother of color, who thankfully appreciates this nation's observation of Black History Month in February, but I choose to recognize, salute and give proper homage to my African and Afro-American ancestors and heritage by constantly doing so on a continual basis and not for a single month. I feel profoundly that Black History Month should and must be observed and recognized the entire year, especially if you're a consciously aware Black man or woman living in the 21st century.

With that philosophy beaming brightly in my internal politics of being who I am and feeling the way that I do about the state of Blackness, I thought that I'd drop a few Black "our-storical" tidbits on you in December to keep you enlightened until February's arrival. The following interesting and curious facts are things that I've picked up over the years from studying the impact of the Black experience on America, and I thought you might find them amusing, engaging and informative.

Did you know that Paul Cuffee, an African-American, was a philanthropist, ship captain and also a devout Quaker, who transported 38 free Afro-Americans to Sierra Leone in 1815 in the hopes of establishing Western Africa? Mr. Cuffee also founded the first integrated school in Massachusetts.

Did you know that The St. John Coltrane African Orthodox Church in San Francisco uses the music of the late jazz great John Coltrane and philosophy as sources of religious discovery?

Did you know that W.E.B. DuBois died one day after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech at the 1963 March on Washington?

Did you know that after friend and musical partner Tami Terrell died of a brain tumor, Marvin Gaye left the music business for two years? During this time, he tried out for the Detroit Lions football team, but didn't make the cut. Instead, he returned to the music studio to record his hit single, "What's Goin On."

Did you know that Josiah Henson fled slavery in Maryland in 1830 and founded a settlement in Ontario, Canada for fugitive slaves? His autobiography "The Life of Josiah Henson, Now an Inhabitant of Canada, as Narrated by Himself," which was published in 1849, is believed to have been Harriet Beecher Stowe's inspiration for the main character in Uncle Tom's Cabin.

Did you know that Nancy Green, a former slave, was employed in 1893 to promote the Aunt Jemima brand by demonstrating the pancake mix at expositions and fairs? Green later signed a lifetime contract with the pancake company and her image was used for packaging and on billboards.

Did you know that at a time when universities did not offer financial assistance to Black athletes, African-American football star Ernie Davis of Syracuse University fame, was offered more than 50 scholarships, an unprecedented total at that time? Mr. Davis had the distinction of being the first African-American to win the acclaimed Heisman Trophy in collegiate football. He died in 1963 at age 23 after being diagnosed with leukemia. A major 2008 motion picture, "The Express," celebrates Mr. Davis' life and career.

Did you know that Langston Hughes' father discouraged his son from writing, agreeing to pay for his college education only if he studied engineering? Brother Langston pursued his literary inclinations and became a truly great poet, novelist, playwright, columnist and social activist.

Did you know that Tice Davids, a runaway slave slave from Kentucky, was the inspiration for the first usage of the term "Underground Railroad?" Brother Davids' owner assumed the slave had drowned when he attempted his swim across the Ohio River. He told the local newspaper that if Davids had escaped, he must have traveled on "an Underground Railroad." Tice Davids, however, did live giving the Underground Railroad its now famous name.

Did you know that William Monroe Trotter and W.E.B.DuBois started The Niagara Movement, a Black civil rights organization which got its name from the group's first meeting location, Niagara Falls? This historic civil rights collective later became the N.A.A.C.P.

Did you know that musician Bo Diddley reportedly got his name from the diddley bow, which is an African instrument with one string?

This completes my brief "December Black Our-Story Facts," but please don't stop there. Do some committed research on your own to see and know how much more pride there is in learning about our roots, because truly Black 'Our-Story' does matter. For today and always, stay strong and always be proud of your heritage and culture. And that's, "As I See It."


Visitor Comments

Submitted By: Mike NardolilliSubmitted: 12/7/2016
Thank you for including Josiah Henson in your list. In addition, Josiah Henson met Queen Victoria and is a national hero in Canada where he is the first black person to appear on a Canadian postage stamp. To learn how to help the Montgomery Parks Foundation tell the story of this remarkable man, please call me at 301-495-2490.

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