Memory for Black History Month by Steven Edwards


So for the next import memory for Black History month, and another very powerful influence in my life, politically and personally, was a teacher I had in middle school.

I love history, and I love men and women that can teach history. It takes a special talent. In middle school I had a History/Social Studies teacher named Mr Edmonds. Several of my friends will remember him and know him and his children.

He was the type of gentleman that seemed to me to be the embodiment of a few phrases I would learn to appreciate later in life:

- Speak softly a carry a big stick

- Don't say in three words what can be said in two.

I can vividly remember times he did both of those things, and it was like lightning bolts of Truth shot directly in to my brain.

Never more so than during Black History month.

I remember the first one was what seemed to be his discomfort with the idea of having a Black History month.

He said: "Black History IS American History"

I remember having the distinct impression that if he had his way, there wouldn't even be a month for it, because he made it a point throughout the year to mention famous Black Americans, or point out various aspects of history as they related to the impact Africans had on the shape of the country, be it in Music, Art, Language (I can still remember him talking about having like a grandparent that spoke Gullah from one of the islands of Freed Slaves near Charleston), Invention, etc.

It seemed to me that he felt that if history gave Black Americans their proper due, he would rather not even have the month at all, because there was just too much of it to shove in one month, and it just further propagated a form of Segregation.

He explained the evils of Segregation so plainly, the impact of it so clearly, again it was like lightning bolts of Truth shot in to your mind. You couldn't hope to have any sort of counter idea.

When he was teaching about Plessy vs Ferguson (Segregation, Separate But Equal) and Brown v The Board of Education (The outlawing of Segregation and eventual integration) he said something so plain and humble I will never forget it:

"They said we were Separate But Equal, but when the gas trucks came by our schools they were almost always out, and when the trucks delivering school supplies came by, they were always low on supplies, having visited all the White schools first".

I don't think anything really more summed up the injustice of the system and the way our social order was broken, how it created a system of White Privilege, the benefits of which White People today still reap, and that unfortunately they don't realize by their parents and grandparents simply having a better education by having their basic needs met leading them to have a better potential outcome scholastically and have a better life.

It will be another generation before we can really have true equality, just because of the harvest that was sown, in some places in the South, right up until the early 80s, because Segregation didn't officially end until then, as the Supremes gave no timeline on how quickly schools had to integrate.

I learned so much from that man, not just about Black History or American History but also just as an example of how a man ought to carry himself like a gentleman, and the virtues of simple, plain, clear and concise language (even if I completely fail at this).

But the thing I am most grateful for is that he radicalized me with Truth.

- Steven Edwards

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