Black History Shaped World History

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Black History is World History

As the month of February is under way, it must not slam the door on the appreciation of Black History.  For throughout the year, we must always reflect on the contributions and impact that African Americans continue to have on the United States and ultimately to the world.  Each year, we all should strive to expand and refresh our knowledge of Black history and the storied impact of Black culture.  From Jesse Owens to Jackie Robinson; Rosa Parks, Malcolm X; Martin Luther King, Michael Jackson and yes, President Barack Obama, each has shaped this country and the world in their own personal and public way. Consequently, Black American History is truly American History.  Since America leads the free world and Blacks helped to build this country, then Black history is also World History.  It’s a proud and beautiful legacy.  It’s also about time that we give it the credit it deserves.

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The beauty of Black American history is in the acknowledgement of its climb from the least of us to the greatest of all.  Stop and pause to really think about the Black American experience. From slavery to Jim Crowe to the Civil Rights Movement, Black Americans have defied the odds and defined the future.   These proud Americans have resisted the powerful and always stood with the weak.  Their history is the personification of grace, strength, humility and glory.  Given these astounding facts, I truly believe the month of February is not big enough to encapsulate or commemorate the impact of Black history on this world. For in the end, Black history is more than just a celebration of the past. It’s a reflection of the depth of a struggle that gave birth to an American empire that now leads the free world.

Looking back, it’s should give everyone pride to recall the contributions of Black people on every area of life.  In the critical and growing space of Science and Invention, African-American revolutionaries have patented creations that continue to shape the world we live in.  For example, do you own a lawn mower?  If so, you can thank Norman Bucknor for improving the rotary blade for lawn mowers; his design enable your lawn to now have a smoother and even cut.    In the area of medical technology, Black inventor George Edward Alcorn designed the first x-ray spectrometer.  On a simpler note, have you ever carried or sat on a folder chair?  If so, thank Nathaniel Alexander for improving the folding chair to its present design.  Or, do you have a fireplace that is safe to use, especially around your children?  Then thank Virgie Ammons for inventing a fireplace dampener.  Anywhere around the globe, disabled people can thank Bessie Blount for inventing an electrical device to be worn around the neck that allows disabled people to be tube fed.   It was Marie Brown that created the first video home surveillance security system and the amazing Charles Drew who created the blood bank; which is a system that stores blood plasma.   By the way, do you like the speed of your personal computer?  Well it was Philip Emeagwali who created fast supercomputer software. The list goes on and on, from food safety, eggbeaters, refrigeration, the ironing board, the air conditioner, cellular phones and peanut butter, Black minds have developed and designed the tools, technology and inventions that are now embedded into the fabric of American culture and Global life.

Later today or this weekend, when you relax in your safe, air-conditioned homes, which are the beneficiary of Black inventors, you will probably watch sports.  This is another area where Black athletes have challenged stigmas and racism by outclassing their white counterparts in every imaginable way.  From Ernie Davis (first black Heisman Trophy winner), Althea Gibson (first person of color to win a Grand Slam title – the French Open), Tony Dungy (first African American head coach to win the Super Bowl), Jack Johnson (first black heavyweight boxing champion) and Jackie Robinson (first black professional baseball player); Black pioneers have led today’s generations that are now dominating traditionally White-dominated sports.

In the areas of Law or Politics, Blacks have shaped today’s legal and democratic systems.  From (Dred Scott andFrederick Douglass who fought for racial equality) or Civil Rights (Thurgood Marshall and Martin Luther King Jr) who led the struggle post Emancipation, or President Barack Obama (the faithful son who benefited from the struggles of his great Black American ancestors), the Black imprint is real and deep and meaningful.

Lastly, after a long day of work, we all can settle down and enjoy the artistry and trail blazing talents of the likes of Sammie Davis Jr, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Wynton Marsalis, Nat King Cole and Ray Charles.  Or chill to the sounds of modern American Hip-Hop or melodic R & B tunes from the likes of Trey Songz, Beyonce, Jay-Z, Sean Paul and Snoop Dogg.  These talented Black Americans have created a culture that is copied and followed by adoring fans around the globe.   Each of them is firmly rooted in the long and rich Black experience of their ancestors.

Finally, Black writers, actors and directors like W. E. B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington, Richard Wright and Gwendolyn Brooks, James Earl Jones, Sidney Poitier, Tyler Perry, Eddie Murphy, Halle Berry, Oprah Winfrey and Spike Lee inspire and entertain the world with their creativity and their shear brilliance.

As I review this small sampling of Black history, I’m exhausted just writing this article.  It should now be clear that Black History is too encompassing to just be celebrated one month out of the year   It’s a breathtaking and evolving story that deserves its place in the pantheon of all pantheons.
Why? Black History is World History!

G. Anthony Knowles

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