The Bible and Black History

4b97bb3247922b8da36c3838cca7ffdbSpeaking of Black History month, one of the primary concerns I hear among African Americans about the bible is: “Where am I?” With movies like Noah, Exodus Gods and Kings, and The Ten Commandments it is difficult for most black people to have faith in a book that rarely include them. In fact, many of them have been told that the bible is a white man’s book (which is not just insulting to black people but other nations as well). For centuries we’ve been taught that we’re non existent in this book or that we have small rather than significant contributions. But is this true? Were there any black people in the bible at all?

Fun Facts:

  • Location of The Garden of Eden:
    Pishon surrounding Hawilah > East Africa
    Gihon, surrounding Kush > Southern Egypt
    Hideqel, East of Assyria, Euphrates
A skull of Mitochondrial Eve was discovered, and through digitally reconstructing her features, this image was constructed.
A skull of Mitochondrial Eve was discovered, and through digitally
reconstructing her features, this image was constructed.

The Garden of Eden stretched from East Africa to the Euphrates River

  • Ham: Means Burnt Black
  • Moses, the Israelite, passes as the Grandson of the black, Egyptian, pharaoh for 40 years – Acts 7:22-23 (This means that he had to look just like him)
  • Kush > Ham’s first born son. Traced back to the Ethiopians and Nubians
  • Moses Hand Turns White – Conveniently left out of every 10 commandment movie is the second miracle. The one where Moses puts his hand in his bosom and it comes out white as snow. Wouldn’t be much of a miracle if it was already white- Ex. 4:1-7

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  • Paul mistaken for a black Egyptian – Acts 21:37-38
  • The Kushites lived south of Egypt in what is called the Sudan today.
  • The Israelites with dred locs: Numb. 6:5, Ezk 8:3, Samson, etc
  • The messiah’s feet compared to burnt brass, hair like wool – Rev. 1:14-15
  • Ethiopian comes from the Greek word Atheops meaning burnt face
  • Joseph looked like the Egyptians – Gen. 42:7-8
  • Egypt: Ham’s second born son < Blood brothers to the Ethiopians
  • Ethiopian > Burnt Face
  • Egypt > Burnt Black
  • Phut: The Somalians – According to the ancient record of Egypt, Phut has been traced back to the Somalians
  • Shem: Means Name
  • Elymites – Descendants of Shem, black men with Afros and full Beards

Olaudah Equiano

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At the age of forty-four Olaudah Equiano wrote and published his autobiography, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Or Gustavus Vassa. Written by himself, he registered this writing at Stationer’s Hall, London, in 1789. More than two centuries later, his work was recognized not only as one of the first works written in English by a former slave, but in his narrative, Equiano recalls his childhood in Essaka (an Igbo village formerly in northeast Nigeria), where they practiced Israelite customs and traditions before both he and his sister were kidnapped and sold into slavery.

Francis Johnson Webb

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Francis Johnson Webb, newspaper editor, is the second published African American novelist. He was born free on March 21, 1828, in Philadelphia to Louisa Burr and Francis Webb. His father, Francis Webb, served as founding member of the Philadelphia distribution agent for Freedom’s Journal*, the first black newspaper in the nation.

Freedom’s Journal was the first African-American owned and operated newspaper published in the United States. Founded by Rev. Peter Williams, Jr. and other free black men in New York City, it was published weekly starting with the March 16 1827 issue.

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Phillis Wheatley

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Alrighty then, let’s get started. Of course, those who know me, even slightly, know that I’m a “365 day a year black history frantic”, but I love black history month because its the time of year where black people’s minds are the most open and willing to be in tuned with back history and that, despite how small it may seem, is worth investing in. Yes, I am saying that you (black people) should invest in your people’s minds. If ever you can capture a moment where they are most in tuned, you should do so. Yayy.

So, without further ado, let’s get started.

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First up is Phillis Wheatley, first (recognized) black writer. AND (yes and) she was a poet. So, I don’t know, that’s like extra credit or something write? ( I can spell right, I just didn’t on purpose…duh). OK, my humor is not funny, which is why I’m not a comedian…on to Wheatley…

The First African American Writer

The first African American Writer is a statement I say lightly. I say it lightly because we do not know if she was the first. She is only recorded as the first because her work was published and that makes it legitimate in this society. So, as the first recorded black woman writer, Phillis was the first to make a name for herself while still under the bondage of slavery. Brought from Africa as a child and sold to a Boston merchant, Wheatley spoke no English initially (as didn’t many of her people) but by the time she was sixteen, under the tutorship of her owners, had mastered the language. Her interest in literature led her to write and publish Poems on Various Subjects in 1773.

Black History Fun Facts: Ray Charles

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Starting tonight, I am launching a new Blog Series:

Black History Fun Facts

…that will come to you every Friday from now on through February. This post will be a list of Fun Facts about the cultural, archeological, biblical, or historical identity of African Americans. Sometimes it will be a bio, sometimes it will be an amazing invention, and sometimes it will be a book or movie recommendation.

My Black History Fun Fact for today is Ray Charles and the movie Ray starring Jamie Fox on the life of Ray Charles. Released in 2004, this is one of my favorite movies. The story is about the life and career of the legendary rhythm and blues musician Ray Charles, from his humble beginnings in the South, where he went blind at age seven after the death of his little brother, to his rise to stardom during the 1950s and 1960s. I like it more because of his talent and life than his rise to fame; the musical genius of Ray and the emotional complexity of the story, which is hard not to love. Here are some fun facts:

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Ray Charles Robinson was born on September 23, 1930, in Albany, Georgia. His father, a mechanic, and his mother, a sharecropper, moved the family to Florida when he was an infant. One of the most traumatic events of his childhood was witnessing the drowning death of his younger brother.

Soon after his brother’s death, Charles gradually began to lose his sight. He was blind by the age of 7, and his mother sent him to a state-sponsored school, the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind in St. Augustine, Florida—where he learned to read, write and arrange music in Braille. He also learned to play piano, organ, sax, clarinet and trumpet. The breadth of his musical interests ranged widely, from gospel to country, to blues.

Charles’s mother died when he was 15, and for a year he toured on the “Chitlin’ Circuit” in the South. While on the road, he picked up a love for heroin.

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At the age of 16, Charles moved to Seattle. There, he met a young Quincy Jones, a friend and collaborator he would keep for the rest of his life. Charles performed with the McSon Trio in 1940s. His early playing style closely resembled the work of his two major influences—Charles Brown and Nat King Cole. Charles later developed his distinctive sound.

By 1953, Charles landed a deal with Atlantic Records. He celebrated his first R&B hit single with the label, “Mess Around.”

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The year 1960 brought Charles his first Grammy Award for “Georgia on My Mind,” followed by another Grammy for the single “Hit the Road, Jack.” For his day, he maintained a rare level of creative control over his own music. Charles broke down the boundaries of music genres in 1962 with Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music. On this album, he gave his own soulful interpretations of many country classics. While thriving creatively, Charles struggled in his personal life. He continued to battle with heroin addiction. In 1965, Charles was arrested for possession.

In 2003, Charles had to cancel his tour for the first time in 53 years. He underwent hip replacement surgery. While that operation was successful, Charles soon learned he was suffering from liver disease. He died on June 10, 2004, at his home in Beverly Hills, California. During his lifetime, Charles recorded more than 60 albums and performed more than 10,000 concerts.

Ray Charles was a pioneer of soul music, integrating R&B, gospel, pop and country to create hits like “Unchain My Heart,” “Hit the Road Jack” and “Georgia on My Mind.” A blind genius, he is considered one of the greatest artists of all time.