Harold Michael Harvey and a youth group in Cartersville, Georgia who came out to hear Harvey speak on justice in America during Black History Month Observance, February 28, 2016
Photo Credit: Cyn Harvey
Black History Month 2016 has run its course this year. However, Black History is more than a month. Black History is an event that has significance three hundred and sixty-five days a year, and in leap years like this one, three hundred and sixty-six days a year.
I was honored during Black History Month 2016 by two museums which document and maintain the rich cultural history of the Black community in America.
First on Saturday, February 27, 2016, the Sights & Sounds Black Cultural Expo Museum presented me with a “Distinguished Honoree” award for service to humanity over the course of my lifetime. For a young man, such as myself, this was a humbling experience, especially as I believe that my greatest work is ahead of me.
Then, on Sunday, February 28, 2016, I spoke at The Official Noble Hill-Wheeler Memorial Center in Cartersville, Georgia the first school for “colored children” built in Northwest Georgia by the Rosenwald Foundation.
The goal of these museums is a noble one. Their importance is underscored given the fact that many entertainers who have reached a modicum of success in America argue for the proposition that it is no longer important, nor necessary to remember Black History in the larger context of the American experience. Miss Stacy Dash is the latest affluent Black person to denigrate the observance of Black History. She is joined by Whoopi Goldberg, Raven Symone, Charles Barclay and Morgan Freeman, just to list a few.
Marcus Garvey said, “A people without a knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” The great historian W. E. B. Dubois said it thusly, “The past is the present, that without what was nothing is, but for the infinite dead, the living are but unimportant bits.” It is easy, therefore, to see how an absence of history in the context of the American melting pot can lead to an out of sight, “outta” mind reality for any ethnic group.
Young people should realize that the proselytizing glamour and athletic stars have found their money pipeline. These stars are fearful that they could lose their gravy train if, in the vernacular of the the 1960’s, “The Man” gets upset with the thrust of Black people for justice and equality under the color of American law.
Seemingly, they are saying to the brothers and sisters who are not performing on the field or stage to “go slow, tone it down, don’t embarrass a politician who needs your vote. Be polite, we gonna get all of the gravy and you can relish in the fact that a brother or sister made it, skinning and grinning in front of “The Man.”
During my speech to the group in Cartersville, I centered my opening remarks with an overview of why Black History Month started as a single week of Negro History and expanded to a month long celebration in 1970 that wraps up today for 2016. God forbid that the more wealthy Black people among us do not get their wish and this becomes our last observance of the role and scope of Black people in the American scheme of things. I then moved into the topic that will consume us as a society for the remainder of this decade, the need for “Reparatory Justice.”
Kindly enjoy my opening remarks by clicking on the link below.
Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist, the author of Paper puzzle and Justice in the Round. He can be contacted at haroldmichaelharvey.com.