The question is deceptively simple. While it may seem like the history of “black people,” or a month worth of 28 days of “Black Pride,” or a horrific recap of slavery, Black History is deeper and richer than this. The African diaspora consists of a worldwide collection of communities and not all black-skinned people are part of the same nationality of people.
Are we going to talk about Black Biblical History and refer to ancestral names? The bible does not support the concept of race which means that we are then dealing with another aspect of black history. What is the nationality of the so-called “black people” of the western hemisphere and abroad? Are we talking about the Israelites (who are black) the Egyptians (black…Israel and Egypt is in Northeast Africa by the way), the Ethiopians, Nubians, Somalians, the Philistines, the Canaanites, Assyrians (who were Black Hamites), or the Elamites (descendants of Shem with Afros and full beards)?
“King Solomon said, ‘I’m Black but I’m comely,’ so what color would all of Solomon’s sons be? The Messiah went into Egypt to hide, how could that be done with blonde hair and blue eyes? It’s not about skin complexion, it’s just a fact, the people of the bible were black.”
Are we talking about the Ghanaian? Nigerian? Kenyan? Ashanti? Are we talking about the Jamaican, Haitian, Dominican, Afro-Cuban, Afro-Puerto Rican, Afro-Brazilian?
Do we discuss Kings and Queens? Who was King Solomon and King David? Did you know they were black Israelite Kings? Or, who was Mansa Mussa, Samore Toure, King of Sudan, or King Tenkamenin of Ghana? Who was Amina, Queen of Zaria, Candace, the empress of Ethiopia, Makeda, Queen of Sheba, Nefertiti, Queen of Ancient Kemet or Yaa Asantewa, Ashanti kingdom, Ghana?
Black people are worldwide so when we say “Black History,” we have a lot to talk about and fortunately for you, this blog is all about that not just in February but every Friday (or every other Friday) of the week. If you’re one of those people who live for the deep and rich experiences of Blacks not just in America but worldwide, if you live for this on an everyday basis, then you’ve come to the right place!
Next week, we have a new episode coming up. For now, this is a great time for you to review some of the articles we already have available on this site. Below are some of the more popular ones and I’ll see you next week!
Learn more by visiting the Black History Fun Fact Friday Page HERE.
ATTN: A quick word. I have selected four of my books that will be on a 99cent digital sale for the ENTIRE month of February! In honor of Black History Month, The Road to Freedom, Renaissance, Revolution and I am Soul will be 99cents in ebook. If you’ve never read any of my books this is an EXCELLENT opportunity to see what the hype is all about.
ATTN. If you’ve never read my books, these FOUR are 99cents each in ebook for the entire month of February.
I write poetry and Black Historical Fiction.
About Renaissance: The Nora White Story Book I
When seventeen-year-old Nora White successfully graduates High School in 1922 Mississippi and is College bound, everyone is overjoyed and excited. Everyone except Nora. She dreams of Harlem, Cotton Clubs, Fancy Dresses, and Langston Hughes. For years, she’s sat under Mr. Oak, the big oak tree on the plush green grass of her families five acres, and daydreamed of The Black Mecca. The ambitious, young Nora is fascinated by the prospect of being a famous writer in The Harlem Renaissance and decides she doesn’t want to go to College. Despite her parent’s staunch protest, Nora finds herself in Jacobsville, New York, a small town forty-five minutes outside of Harlem. Shocked by their daughter’s disappearance, Gideon and Molly White are plagued with visions of the deadly south, like the brutal lynching of Gideon’s sister years ago. As the couple embarks on a frightening and gut wrenching search for Nora, they are each stalked by their own traumatic past. Meanwhile, Nora learns that the North is not all it’s cracked up to be. Can Gideon and Molly overcome their disturbing past in time to find their daughter before it’s too late?
About Revolution: The Nora White Story Book II
When Nora White is drugged by her friend she is forced to deal with the harsh reality of life in the North. She meets Keisha and the women catch a ride to The Den, a gambling and numbers hole-in-the-wall in Jacobsville New York. Unlike the upper echelon of Harlem, Nora’s new friends are hustlers but down to Earth and feels more like family. They take her to Liberty Hall where she is introduced to Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association (U.N.I.A.). Meanwhile, Nora has no idea her father has been arrested and back home Molly is hanging on by a thread. When the community discovers the truth of the alleged crime they devise a way to get Gideon out of jail but their actions could mean life or death for everyone involved. Will Nora come to her senses and return home in time to help the family or will her naiveté lead her astray once again?
About I am Soul (poetry)
I am Soul is a short collection of poetry and prose from Yecheilyah’s PBS Blog covering Black History, Faith, Love and all things Soul. Short, sweet, historical, and spiritual.
About The Road to Freedom (novella)
Deeply concerned about the state of Black America, a fight with his brother compels a young Joseph to leave his mother’s house and join his friends for a trip to Atlanta for SNCC’s (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee) second conference. Excited to live life on their own, Jo and his friends have left school and the lives they were living for a chance to become part of the movement. With no money and essentially no plan the seven friends, three black and four white, set out for the road when they are stopped by a racist cop who makes them exit the car. The teens are unaware that a mob of Klansmen also await them at the New Orleans bus terminal. Find out in the 3rd installment of the Stella Trilogy how Joseph and his friends discover the truth about themselves in the Jim Crow south on The Road to Freedom.
Hurry though, this EXCLUSIVE offer won’t last long!
January 17th marked 3 years since I started Black History Fun Fact Friday!
Our first Black History Fun Fact Friday took place on January 17, 2015. The post was on Ray Charles and received a whopping 4 likes. Since that time however, BHFFF has become one of the most popular segments of this blog.
Since we are one week away from Black History Month, I would like to take this time to republish the post on The Origins of Black History Month and next week, we’ll start this segment back up with something fresh. Last year we were on a roll with 22 total articles on Black History. Let’s see if we can break that record with more Black History posts this year! As you all know, I do this 365 days of the year.
Here’s the post from last year on the origins of Black History Month. Enjoy!
Black History Month is around the corner. You know, the one time of the year that people are genuinely interested in Black History. Good thing you’ve got The PBS Blog, where we hit you up every week and all year around! Today, let us explore how Black History Month came to be in the first place.
Have you ever wondered why Black History Month is in February? You’ve heard it (or maybe even said it) “Why it’s gotta be the shortest month of the year tho?” Yea, that was you. It was me too. Before we get into that, let’s start from the beginning.
It starts with Dr. Carter G. Woodson, famous for his book The Mis-Education of the Negro, a book I highly recommend that you read (if you haven’t already).
Known as The Father of Black History Month, Carter was one of the first African Americans to receive a doctorate from Harvard, and dedicated his career to the field of black history.
In 1915, Carter G. Woodson helped found the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (which later became the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History). The next year he established the Journal of Negro History and in 1921 formed the African-American-owned Associated Publishers Press. His goal was to center the contributions of African Americans. In addition, he went on to write a dozen books, including but not limited to: A Century of Negro Migration (1918), The History of the Negro Church (1921), The Negro in Our History (1922) and TheMis-Education of the Negro (1933). TheMis-Education of the Negro is the most famous of these and is an often-recommended book by Historians and is also a book of study at Colleges. It centers on blacks indoctrination into the American education system as well as touch on self-empowerment.
In 1926, Carter founded Black History Week. Black History Week eventually became Black History Month. It started as a program to encourage the study of Black History and was a week-long celebration in honor of Frederick Douglass (Born Feb. 14th) and Abraham Lincoln (Born Feb. 12th) and this is why Black History Month is in February.
The Abraham Lincoln thing is odd to me since he said that if he could have saved the union without freeing any slaves he would have done it.
I didn’t make this up. You can Google it. Written during the Civil War, in one of Abraham Lincoln’s most famous letters to Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune, Lincoln wrote about his focus to save the union, not to free the enslaved. Written while the Emancipation lay in his desk, not yet proclaimed, this letter is where the infamous quote comes from:
“My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union.” – Abraham Lincoln, excerpt from
Letter addressed to Horace Greeley, Washington, August 22, 1862.
Source: The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, edited by Roy P. Basler
In any event, in honor of these men the program was held February of 1926 and was later expanded to an entire month as late as 1976.
And that my people is how Black History Month (the brief version) came to be.
Personally, I do not believe in colors. I believe in nations of people. I do not consider black and white to be nationalities set in motion by the creator but colors created by men. I believe that each human person belongs to a nation with land, laws, customs, and traditions to govern them. No one is black, white, or red. This doesn’t even make sense. Race was a concept developed by man to keep certain truths hidden. Racism, in short, is stupid considering we are all part of the human family. And, like you, I also do not believe that Black History is something that should be relegated to one month, (for me it’s a way of life) let alone the shortest month. HOWEVER….
…please stop complaining people…
I hear a lot of people who, when February emerges, complain that we shouldn’t celebrate Black History Month because blah, blah, blah. You’re missing the point.
Knowledge is scarce these days, even the most common sense knowledge. In the age of information where its “cool to be conscious”, people aren’t as “woke” as they think they are. That said, if Black History Month is an opportunity for you to share knowledge and to introduce something to people at a time where they would for once pay any attention, then just do it. It doesn’t have anything to do with “celebrating black history month” but rather spreading the truth. If Black History Month helps people to understand who they are because their minds are open now, then, by all means, take advantage of it and stop complaining. OK, so the month is short. That just means you better pack as much information into these 28 days as you can.
*Steps off soapbox*
And now, for my favorite Carter G. Woodson Quote:
“When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his “proper place” and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit. His education makes it necessary.”
— Dr. Carter G. Woodson, “The Miseducation of the Negro”
Welcome back to Black History Fun Fact Friday where Black History Month is never over! BHFFF is coming to you every Friday where I strive to introduce to you lesser known faces and lesser known facts. Today, we are talking Black Land Ownership, the most underrated , least discussed black business yet.
Land ownership has always been important to African Americans, although we own less than 1% of rural land in the United States today, it has not always been this way.
At one point, Black Land Ownership was at its peak (the 1910s – 20s) and helped to start such communities as The Mound Bayou in Mississippi, Rosewood in Florida, Blackdom in Albuquerque New Mexico, and, Black Wall Street in Oklahoma and many, many more. (See 7 Black Communities that Prospered) “In the 50 years following the Emancipation Proclamation, African Americans held over 15 million acres of land. Today, African Americans own less than 7 million acres of land. In 1920, African Americans owned 14% of all farms. Today, African Americans own less than 1% of all farms.” (Vivian M. Lucas, Barren: The Decline of African American Land Ownership from 15 million to 7million acres).
In Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry, the book that opened me up to the world of Black Literature as a child, Mildred D. Taylor starts a slew of books centered around the Logan family and their fight to keep their land. Land, always that place families could come back to, where gatherings could be held and where communities could root themselves. In Forty-Acres, Phyllis R. Dixon centers her story around black landownership. Rising from a sharecropper’s son to the largest Black Landowner in Dwight Count, Arkansas, C.W. Washington’s stroke forces him to retire from farming and he must decide what happens to the land. And finally, In QueenSugar, by Natalie Baszile, now a TV show executive produced by Oprah, it again brings to light the subject of black landownership when Charley Bordelon inherits her father’s eight hundred acres of sugarcane land.
Unlike today, where paper money is valued above anything else, land ownership had always been praised as a vital contributor to financial and economic stability for the African American community. Landowners could build houses on the land, raise animals on land and grow food. We sold food we grew, bartered among neighbors, had bountiful dinners and when The Great Depression hit, many southern black land-owners didn’t notice until years in. Land ownership was something cherished, something we could call our own, and something to which we could be proud of.
What happened to families like the ones we read about and have grown to love? Where did Big Mama go and the land with her? What happen to Black Land Ownership and why was it so important to the people who came before us?
“Comparing the U.S. Agriculture Census data on African-American farmland ownership for 1910 and 1997, it shows a drastic decline from its peak of 15 million acres in 1910 to 2.4 million acres in 1997. A recent study estimated that in the early 20th century, rural landownership among African-American farmers and non-farmers was between 16 and 19 million acres (Gilbert, J., 2002). The 1999 Agricultural Economics and Land Ownership Survey (AELOS), which assessed private rural landownership across race and use (i.e. farming, forestry, etc.), found that there are currently 68,000 African-American rural landowners and they own a total of approximately 7.7 million acres of land, less than 1% of all privately owned rural land in the United States. (AELOS, 1999). Sixty percent (60%) of which is owned by non-farmers. (AELOS, 1999). However, this acreage is valued at $14 billion. (AELOS, 1999).”
-Miessha Thomas, Jerry Pennick & Heather Gray, Federation/LAF staff, 2004
There are many factors that play into why land has lost its prominence among blacks today:
Discrimination of Black Farmers
Little political and technical understanding of the business of farming on behalf of the farmers themselves
Poor land management
Movement of blacks from the South to the North, in which case many sold their land
Heir Property passed down to heirs who don’t really care about the land
Underappreciated of the business of farming by young people who equate it to slave labor
Landowners dying off without leaving Wills
When my husband and I lived on our cousins’ 40 acres, we loved it. The land I mean. The house wasn’t much to speak of, but oh the land! We lived there for five years of our lives and as a couple who is interested in acquiring land of our own we learned a lot.
Not only did many families leave their wealth (land) for better financial opportunities in the North (which many of them did not find), many blacks also did not leave Wills to their children and grandchildren. Known legally as Estate Planning, this is the process of arranging for the distribution and management of your estate after you die which, sadly, many black families fail to do. The generation just a few steps out of slavery more than likely cared very much about the land but if the children who will keep the land going do not care, then the land is lost. In most families, when the older generation dies off (and did not leave Wills to indicate who the land passed down to), the land then falls into the hands of the State who then controls who owns the land and how much of land they own. In the case, there was estate planning, the land may also become heir property.
Heir property is when the land is passed down to heirs according to the state or blood relative successors who are in place to inherit the land. The problem with this in the Black Community is that the land was typically passed down to family members who are not as interested in the land, who does not live in the state where the land is, who is only interested in the oil rights of the land (royalties given to landowners who have had their land drilled on for oil by the oil companies, which, taints the purity of the soil so many of these lands are no longer good for growing food), and who could care less about the land’s upkeep. Heirs also comprised of relatives who may not have known each other and will probably never know that the land exists.
Gary Grant, National President of the Black Farmers and Agriculturalist Association, a nonprofit organization created to respond to the issues and concerns of African American farmers in the U.S. and abroad, addresses the continued loss of African American farms:
“We are losing land and wealth that our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents worked, fought, and died to acquire for us,” he says. “We owe our ancestral warriors a debt– We must help ourselves by ensuring that the next generation is ready to control the land.”
During our time on the land, from which we acquired dogs, chickens, a horse, and started two gardens, my husband and I had long petitioned our elderly cousins on what it will take for us to buy some of the lands. After all, this was family. However, the land is heir property that must first be passed down to certain individuals. Individuals who do not live near the land, rarely check up on the land, and who do not have a connection to the land in a way that would compel them to live on the property. This is not unusual. Many landowners, especially young ones, are more interested in living in the city and in brick houses. Thus, the land becomes abandoned since lack of land management can quickly get out of hand and little by little, the land is lost.
Still, land ownership is still a big deal in the African American community. There are still many blacks who own land and much more who are stepping out there in the quest to secure acres of their own. Whether it’s an acre, five acres, or forty, I encourage the reestablishing of Black Land ownership, the education of farming and the motivation of our young people to truly understand what land has meant to us as a people—long before slavery we were a farming people—and what it means to us today.
My husband and I are starting by growing our garden in the backyard. We may not have our acres yet but its a start! We’re growing Spinach, Onions, Tomatoes, Lettuce, Basil, Thyme, Rosemary, and Oregano.
Before the week ends, I wanted to share this with you.
Next month, March, we will be four months out from the release of Book One in The Nora White Story. To prepare for this, I’ve put together a Book Launch Schedule to help all of you to stay updated on this project.
To view the Launch Schedule and to stay updated, I have put together a temporary website dedicated to The Nora White Story exclusively.
You can help me spread the word by sharing and checking out the site HERE.
I’d also appreciate any shares of the site with those who you know are interested in this kind of story.
As the time draws near, I will give more information about the special events leading up to the release for that particular month. As you can see, yes, there will be a blog party! But I’m not giving out any details right now. I will real soon and your patience is most appreciated.
Special Delivery. Did you know that Canada enslaved blacks too? We were scattered across the four corners of the Earth. Excellent History Lesson from the Blackmail4u Blog.
Black History: Special Delivery!!
We are often told about the history of slavery in the United States. However, Canada also participated in the slave trade. In comparison to the U.S., the number of people estimated to be enslaved in Canada was much lower. Still those enslaved in Canada experienced the same mistreatment and abuse. We often hear narratives of enslaved people escaping to freedom in Canada. However there were also groups of slaves in Canada who escaped to freedom in the United States by crossing the border into to Detroit, MI. The stories of those enslaved in Canada has often gone untold or been ignored. Slavery was legal in Canada for 200 years.
What if you identified as one race but because of geographical differences you were told you were another race? Even if your skin tone said otherwise? Is it right to determine race by skin tone alone? Does race itself even exist?
In today’s episode of Black History Fun Fact Friday, we will explore The Race Card and how it has handicapped the life of one man who is still fighting to reclaim his identity. He is quickly becoming an important part of history as his story tells us so much about race.
Introducing Mostafa Hefny, an Egyptian Immigrant who came to the United States and was told he was white, despite his skin color. To understand this, let us first establish the U.S. racial classification system. The U.S. Census Bureau defines race as “a social category recognized by the United States and does not attempt to define race biologically, anthropologically, or genetically”. The Census Bureau recognizes five categories of race:
• White (people with origins in Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa,)
• Black or African American (Africa)
• American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian,
• Native Hawaiian
• Other Pacific Islander
Nicknames for race has also been applied to colors: White, Black, Red, and Yellow.
The census also includes a Hispanic ethnic category. It is an ethnic category rather than a race category because the Latino community is said to include many races, such as White, Black, Native American, Asian, and mixed. Keep in mind these are not classifications based on culture, land, or language, but skin tone alone. This means that anyone from Europe according to the lands designated for the specific color is considered white and anyone from Africa (according to the lands specified) is considered black.
In the ancient world, the Greeks, Romans, Israelites, Egyptians, Ethiopians, e.g. did not have racial categories. Rather people were divided according to their nationality. People from Europe may identify themselves as Irish, Russians, Greeks, Swedish, so forth and so on instead of simply whites. Likewise, people on the continent of Africa may refer to themselves as Ethiopians, Somalian’s, Nigerians, Egyptians, Israelites, Ghanaian’s, so forth and so on instead of simply blacks. The ancient Hebrews, Egyptians, Ethiopians, and Libyans didn’t speak of a place called Africa even though they were indigenous to that continent.
Since 1997, Mostafa Hefny, has been suing the U.S. government because when Hefny immigrated to America, the U.S. government told him he was no longer a black man. This is because according to the U.S. racial system of classification, we’re not supposed to realize that Egypt is in Africa, just that it is the Middle East, and as such anyone from the Middle East is considered White; obviously despite their skin tone.
“Dr. Hefny was a Bilingual Resource Teacher with Wayne County Regional Education Service Agency (Wayne County RESA) in Wayne, MI, USA for thirteen (13) years. When he stated on his employment records that he is black the Director of Human Resources sent him a letter which was copied to the Superintendent threatening him that his education career will be ruined if he did not change his racial classification on his employment records from black to white. A few days later one of the top administrators told him “If you ever say that you are black again no one will hire you and if hired you will be running from one job to the other for the rest of your life”. Even though Wayne County RESA provides support and consultant services to all of Wayne County which is 30% black, the Superintendent was white, his four Associate Superintendents were white, and 95% of the administrators and consultants were white.
Wayne County RESA did not fire Dr. Hefny, instead they denied him promotion twice, persecuted him, harassed him, called him nigger, and psychologically tortured him to the point that he left on social security psychiatric disability which lasted ten (10) years (1989-1998.) Additionally, he was hospitalized in psychiatric hospitals twice(1992 & 2000.) All the doctors who treated Dr. Hefny stated in their medical reports that his psychiatric injury was work related. When Dr. Hefny recovered and returned to the work force Wayne County RESA followed up on their threats and he was fired five times in one year.”
How did Hefny respond? He was shocked when his government-issued identification classified him as “white.”
According to the Detroit News: “As a Black man and as an African, I am proud of this heritage. My classification as a white man takes away my black pride, my black heritage and my strong black identity.” – Mostafa Hefny
This begs the question, what is black and what is white? We use them for clarity, but are they colors or nations of people? What about other nations? Asians, Chinese, Japanese?
According to the Office of Management and Budget Standards for the Classification of Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity, citizens are designated as White if they have “origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, North Africa or the Middle East.” For this reason, because of Hefny’s geographical location, his classification makes sense within the context of America’s definition of race. Again, according to the U.S. racial system of classification, we’re not supposed to realize that Egypt is in Africa, just that it is the Middle East, and as such anyone from the Middle East can be considered White; obviously despite their skin tone.
“Egypt is on the coast of Africa. It is not some small village in Sweden.” – Paul Mooney
From the foundation of man, we have been divided according to our nations and lands. In Genesis Chapter 10, we find the Table of Nations. After the flood Noah and his sons and their wives were saved and from this family repopulated the Earth. How they were divided is found in The Table of Nations.
Since Ham had the most descendants we are not going to go through every last one, but he birthed the African nations populating Africa and other parts of the “Middle East.” The word Ham in Hebrew is Khwam, and it means “hot, burnt, and black.” The first-born son of Ham, Cush, forms the Kushite nation. They were also called and known as the ancient Ethiopians. Ethiopia comes from the Greek word, Aethipos, which means, “burnt or black face.” The Greeks applied this name to the people living south of Egypt. The name Egypt comes from the word Aegyptus though the Egyptians called themselves Khemet / Kemet, which is a variation of the Hebrew word Khawm (Ham). It means, “People of the black land.”
While many of us are already familiar with Ham’s sons, Shem’s descendants are not always acknowledged. Though not “Africans”, they were also black as were the Israelites who were often mistaken for Egyptians. Paul was mistaken for a black Egyptian (Acts 21:38), Moses passed as the grandson of Pharaoh for 40 years (Acts 7:22-23) and the messiah hid in Egypt:
“Now it’s very unlikely that Jesus would have been able to be HIDDEN in Egypt, if he had a very different color of SKIN from the people in Egypt.” – University of Birmingham historian, Dr. Mark Goodacre, BBC program called The Complete Jesus, 2001
I am not sure where Henfy is today with his case. Last I read he was still fighting to be classified as black and this was back in 2012. The ancient Greek historian, Herodotus, who visited Egypt in the 5th century B.C.E., described the Egyptians as black-skinned with woolly hair and anthropologist, Count Constatin de Volney (1727-1820), spoke about the Egyptians that produced the Pharaohs. He later paid tribute to Herodotus’ discovery when he said:
“The ancient Egyptians were true Negroes of the same type as all native-born Africans. That being so, we can see how their blood, mixed for several centuries with that of the Romans and Greeks, must have lost the intensity of its original color, while retaining nonetheless the imprint of its original mold. We can even state as a general principle that the face (referring to The Sphinx) is a kind of monument able, in many cases, to attest to or shed light on historical evidence on the origins of the people.”
How do you think race influences our society today?