July 29, 2010

Things I Didn't Know About Black America: Shirley Sherrod

So, I'm not going to get into the guts of this whole Shirley Sherrod/Andrew Breitbart fiasco.

But what I will say is, I think the sister has a serious point when she said she'd like to talk to the President about what he doesn't know about the history of Southern Black America.

One of my very good friends invited me to come along with him this summer to tour civil rights era sites throughout the south.  And, in my smugness, I said "dude, I'm Black from Maryland - my family LIVED the civil rights movement.  I don't need to be a tourist."

That said, Maryland is very much the line state.  There was terrible racism and race terrorism there, of course.  But it wasn't really the epicenter of Jim Crow like, say, Alabama, Mississippi, or Georgia during the 50's & '60's.

I don't really know.  And just because I'm Black doesn't mean I know by default.

And neither does President Obama, who, as far as I can tell, has yet to visit any of those Southern states since the election.

My Jewish friends have quite skillfully laid claim to the term "never again" in the face of the Holocaust, and I have yet to meet a young Jewish person who doesn't have some vivid living memory handed down to them by parents & grandparents & great grandparents about why they need to be both eternally vigilant and eternally better than the examples of their oppressors.

How did our history get lost, Black America?  Why aren't we talking to the Shirley Sherrods and Bill Cosbys and Dick Gregorys and Harry Belefontes and Ruby Dees and, yes, Clarence Thomases and Condolezza Rices, about how we always remember, always honor, and always excel despite the horrors?
Eyes on The Prize: America's Civil Rights Years 1954-1965Freedom Summer: The Savage Season That Made Mississippi Burn and Made America a Democracy
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