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Why Knowing Our History Is Important | By Louie Overstreet

February 10, 2022 by  
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BY LOUIE OVERSTREET

Louie Overstreet

For far too many of us, all we know about our history is that February is Black History Month and was started by Dr. Carter Woodson (1875-1950), Harvard Ph.D. graduate class of 1912. He is the father of black history and it started off as a weeklong celebration of “’Negro” history back in 1926.

However, the undeniable fact is that our lack of appreciation of the causal impact of failing to know one’s history is one of the two most significant causes of the current plight of our race. The other cause being the impact of Jim Crow laws, which came into existence in just a little over a decade, after the end of the Civil War.

In the presidential election of 1876, 11 years at the end of the Civil War, Samuel Tilden (a Democrat) won the popular vote, but was one vote short of having enough electoral votes (184). Republican Rutherford B. Hayes, who finished a close second in the popular vote, had 169 electoral college votes.

Understanding his plight and the sentiment in the South, Hayes cut a deal. In exchange for the support of Southern Democrats in the Electoral College. He agreed to the following: 1) the removal of federal troops from the South; 2) place a southerner in his cabinet; 3) give control of federal patronage jobs to the local yokels; and 4) control over federal public work contracts. Not only did this result in Jim Crow laws being enacted, but it also resulted in the fact that between 1877 and 1950 over 4,000 Blacks were lynched in the South.

To get where we need to be in America — which, as Dr. King stated, is being judged by the content of our character and not the color of our skin — we need to first learn our history, not only here in America, but all the way back to the cradle of civilization. That’s where centers of learning in Africa existed before Christ our savior walked the Earth over 2,000 years ago and before there was one city in what is now called Europe.

Understanding our history will allow us to refine our six senses to change our plight:

  1. Develop a sense of charity: Help others who have not received the blessings that you have in life.
  2. Demonstrate a sense of personal responsibility: understand that you cannot build yourself up by tearing some else down.
  3. Demonstrate a sense of commitment: if you are not a part of the solution, then you are a part of the problem.
  4. Demonstrate a sense of involvement: believe in the simple phrase containing ten words with twenty letters, “if it is to be, it is up to me.”
  5. Exhibit a sense of solidarity: vote your interest, every other ethnic group votes theirs.
  6. Cultivate a sense of reciprocity: help those who help you.

I hope this is a history lesson worth learning.

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