Welcome back to another Black History Fun Fact Friday.
Today, we are talking about how important it is for us not to let the dreams of our ancestors die. We are talking about picking up the mantel, reversing generational curses, and rededicating ourselves to our forefathers and fore-mother’s legacy. We are also talking about being careful with internet research and sharing disinformation, and we are doing it by looking at the life of one man, Benjamin Montgomery and his son Isaiah.
Benjamin Montgomery was born a slave in London Country VA in 1819 and was sold to a Mississippi planter named Joseph Davis. Davis was the older brother of Jefferson Davis who later served as President of the Confederate States of America. Montgomery was taught to read and write by Davis children and was tasked with running Joseph’s general store on Davis Bend plantation. Montgomery did so well that he was promoted to overseeing Joseph’s entire purchasing and shipping operations. Benjamin learned land surveying, techniques for flood control and the drafting of architectural plans. Montgomery was also a mechanic and an inventor but as an enslaved man, his inventions were denied patents. And even though Jefferson Davis made it a law to allow slaves to file patents, Montgomery’s inventions were still denied. But Montgomery’s inventions was not his only passions. Benjamin also had dreams of owning his own land.
After the end of the Civil War, Joseph Davis sold his plantation to Montgomery and his son Isaiah. Benjamin and Isaiah set out to fulfill Benjamin’s dream by using the land to establish a community of freed slaves but natural disasters ruined their crops and they were unable to pay off the loan to Davis. As a result, the land went back to Joseph and Montgomery died the following year.
Even though this is sad, it gets better. Isaiah (Montgomery’s son), did not let his father’s dream die. He purchased 840 acres of land along with a number of former slaves and founded the town Mound Bayou in Mississippi in 1887. You remember Mound Bayou right? It‘s the first all-black town of Mississippi I talked about it hereback in 2016. Isaiah was named the town first mayor.
Be Careful with Black History Memes:
Before I leave you, I must share a word of caution. Since it’s “cool” to be “woke” now, I’ve been seeing a lot of disinformation about black history circulating on memes on social media. Sadly, a lot of these memes are not historically accurate. Hurricanes do not come from the spirits of “enslaved black women.” That’s not true, and that’s not where Hurricanes come from. There is one about Charles S.L. Baker that says that he invented heat. This is also not true. Charles S.L. Baker improved on the Friction Heater and was one of many who received a patent for it. He did not invent heat. Heat had already existed for thousands of years before S.L. was born. Additionally, the meme says the man next to him is his assistant. This is also not true. Some sources say this man is Charles’ brother but no one really knows who the other man is.
There is another meme out about this story that says Montgomery bought the land he was enslaved on. This is false. Montgomery did not buy the land as you have just read. The land was given to him on a loan and then it was taken back. The victory in this story is his son’s determination to pick up where his father left off and to establish a community for freed blacks. That is what this story is about. Isaiah paid attention to his father’s vision, and he dedicated himself to his father’s memory.
Our history is far too rich and deep to have to make stuff up. Please make sure you are fact-checking before spreading information and Wikipedia is not a credible source for research. Only use it when the information presented can be verified by another, credible, source.
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.
“Wow this was a Great Read!! The road to Freedom:Joseph’s story, may be set In the time frame of the early 60’s but its content is very relevant to today’s current events. The writer takes you on a journey through the eyes of a young man named Joseph. He and his friends begin down a road with only the hope of wanting to somehow help the fight for equality of “African Americans” and to stop the mistreatment they suffered under segregation and Jim Crow laws. They realize that this task would be harder than they imagined.” – Amazon Customer Review
For those of you who don’t already know, I’m a native of Chicago, south side. This blog has been closed because this past weekend, we took a trip up to the windy city for the premiere of “Blakk Amerika: From Prophets to Pimps”, a Stage Play produced by my organization, Israylite Heritage, detailing 4,000 years of history of the so called African American people.
The event took place at The Dusable Museum of African American History. Over 300 people came out to see the almost 3 hour show. Words cannot fully express the empowerment expressed through this event. So instead, I put together a post of pics (as promised yess) to help me to give you an idea of what the play was about.
Let’s start with the name, why Prophets to Pimps?
The History of the African American is always told from the perspective of slavery and the America’s. Aside from the scarce mentioning of life in Africa, rarely is the true story of the identity of the black man and woman told from their glorious past before that. Prophets to Pimps embodies the truth concerning the black man and woman today; who at one point was a nation of Prophets, Prophetess, Kings and Queens. A nation of priest; chosen and set-apart to the most high and charged with the duty of teaching and showing all nations of people his ways.
The costumes were nothing short of amazing. As you can see, many of the actors / actresses are dressed in Egyptian garb. This is to showcase, not only the understanding that the Egyptians were a black skinned people, but more deeply, that the Israelites were also black skinned and that they, the Israelites, are the ancestors of the so called African American people. When they came into Egypt 70 in number, they were freed by the most high through the hand of Moses and led into the wilderness. They are dressed as Egyptians because as citizens of Egypt this is how they would have come out of that land.
When the Israelites were freed from Egypt, they made a covenant with the most high. In this covenant that they made, they promised to spread his word to the world. As a result, the almighty would in return make them the most mighty and most righteous nation above all the nations of the Earth. However, if they did not obey the covenant they would be the most despised and downtrodden of the Earth. They would be plagued by disease, oppression, sicknesses, be called by the names of proverbs, mockeries, and bywords (such as Nigga, Coon, Black, Afro-American, African American, American, etc.)., hidden in prison houses and go into slavery in ships. All of this, our entire history, is written and recorded in the bible itself. No longer would we be a nation of priest and prophets, but if we disobeyed the covenant of the most high, now we would be a nation of thugs and pimps. Sadly, we disobeyed the covenant that we made and so began our tragic downfall. We’ve gone from Prophets…..to Pimps.
Interesting Fact: The word pimp first appeared in English in 1607 in a Thomas Middleton play entitled Your five Gallants. It is believed to have stemmed from the French word “pimper” meaning to dress up elegantly. Pimp used as a verb, meaning to act as a pimp, first appeared in 1636 in the book, “The Beautiful Lover.” In the 18th and 19th centuries, the term was commonly used to refer to informers.
The play covered us being sold into slavery on auction blocks and life on the plantation. The audience really enjoyed this segment. The actors and actresses really put on a good show, causing the room to erupt in laughter and in tears when needed.
In this scene, the slave John is called as a prophet and sent to the other slaves to explain their oppression to them. As you can see, the play also included video on the projector screen and music. Combined, these elements added to the significance of the performances.
This is me! Lol….I play Betsy Mae, a slave on Paul’s plantation whose son gets sold away from her. The old me picture is used in a different scene to show to Besty’s great great great grandson Raymond. His mother, Shelia, explains slavery and what happened to her young son.
This is Ezkekiel. He plays the part of Besty’s son who is sold away from her. Isn’t he handsome! Awww lol.
• During slavery in the United States, the slaves referred to the slave owner as Masa. This was not a mispronunciation of the word Master. Masa is a Hebrew word that means burden/oppression.
• The famous Negro spiritual song KUMBAYAH was often sung on the plantations by slaves. According to the bible in the book of Psalms 68:4, the name of the creator is Yah. Like in the phrase, “Halleluyah” which is spelled “Hallelujah” but is pronounced, “Hallelu-Yah” because it means “Praise Yah”. The song KUMBAYAH therefore means “Come by Yah”. The slaves were singing to the true creator of all to come by and save them.
• The prophets carried the name of Yah in their names, although it has been changed to -iah, many of their names ended in yah. As in IsaiYah, JeremiYah, ZechariYah, ZephaniYah, ObadiYah, etc.
• The true name of the biblical messiah is Yahoshua. This Hebrew name means Yah’s Salvation or Salvation of Yah. It is equivalent in English to Joshua.
I also play the Shelia character in modern times, who teaches her son about his great great great grandmother (the Besty character I played in the beginning). The parallel in this scene showcases how our children are still being taken from us. Shelia gets a surprise visit from a DCFS (Department of Children and Family Services) agent who tries to take her son away. In this scene, my son is played by Zuri.
The most moving part of the play has to be this scene, when we talk about the lynching of African Americans. The scene begins in a home where a discussion is brewing between a woman who says black men should stand up and defend themselves.
But there’s a knock on the door from the neighbor who says police are looking for black men who they say killed three white women. All of the men ran to the woods to hide except Otis and Lewis who are still in the house. Her voice is filled with fear and urgency.
Otis and Lois
Nina Simmon’s Strange Fruit and live footage of hangings occupy the scene.
Fun Fact: The word picnic came from, “Pick a Nigger”. During lynchings, racist whites posed in front of camera’s, gathered blankets, and brought food to the executions. They brought their babies and children along as well. It was an entire event. And they watched as black men, women, and children hung to their deaths under trees. This is why your picnic must be in a spacious land area and under a tree. Lynchings were the first picnics.
**Disclaimer: We are an organization of all nationalities of people. We believe Yah’s love is for ALL men who accept his truth and walk in his ways. Israylite Heritage does not support any racial superiority doctrine.**
No longer do our children respect their mothers and fathers. Now, they oppress them. They have no obedience for the elders in their communities. They have no fear.
No longer do black women look at themselves as princesses and their men as princes; now we are thots and our men are niggas. No longer do we submit ourselves to their authority and recognize them as heads of our households. Now we don’t need a man because we can pay our own bills and buy our own cars. We have made money synonymous with protection. We have turned our glory into shame.
The leaders and so called preachers and deacons within the Black community have led them astray. No longer do they teach you about your mighty heritage, instead they rob you physically and spiritually. They teach you to give tithes that were reserved for the Levite priest (of which we have no knowledge of today), and that was not money to begin with. They do not teach you to fear your almighty creator. Instead they teach you to worship the Gods and Goddesses of your oppressors. Our leaders buy million dollar jets, monopolize on our sorrows, and give nothing in return. They have led us astray and destroy the way of our path.
My husband as Muhammad. Hubby is actually an experienced actor. He has done commercials, voice overs, and has been featured in films alongside Lorenz Tate, Lisa Ray and others. He has many parts in the play but this particular one is that of the store owner Muhammad. It is to showcase the fact that other nationalities of people come into this country and in no time build up businesses within the Black community. We have been in this country for centuries and have not built much of anything, why? Prophecy says this will happen to the children of Israel if they disobeyed the covenant. People wonder why racism in America always surrounds blacks? Because of every nationality in the world, we are the lowest.And that’s just real.
However, the truth is being restored and we will be made great again.
Because this is already a long post and does not even begin to scratch the surface, I am going to leave it here. However, there is so much response from this play that we are already booking to show it again 3 more times this year in different states and again in Chicago this fall. It is possible that we will put together a tour. Details are forthcoming. In the meantime, here are some more pics of the family, rehearsals, etc. (They are not professional pictures because we are still processing the footage and pictures our camera guy took).