America has a month-long ritual in February that reminds everyone that whites and blacks have beef and that black people are only historical when they’ve been victims of white people. The first part, the incessant picking at the great scab that is never healed, is the most important. Black people learn to feel angry and less important. They are also taught to see any success as a function either of a defeat or a gratuity by white people.
Black History Month could be more than a celebration of black Americans. It would also highlight the contributions of blacks to America’s history, beyond ending slavery and overcoming prejudice. These are huge steps forward for any society but they aren’t unique to America.
Humanity has suffered from slavery since its infancy. Every nation has its own story of suffering with it. Some people still struggle with slavery today. Did you know that of the 12.5,000,000 Africans who shipped to the western hemisphere in the 16th through the 19th centuries, only 388,000 arrived on North American shores? It is also worth noting that North Africans enslaved and captured well over a million Europeans during the same period. It’s hard to find a part of the world without involuntary servitude.
Although the history of slavery in the United States is a significant part of African Americans’ story, it is not the only one. Not only should the United States’ history with slavery be celebrated, but so are many other contributions by black Americans.
Crispus Attucks, for example, should be as well-known and remembered as Paul Revere’s. Attucks was the first American Patriot to die in battle with the British at the beginning of the American Revolution.
The National Park Service summarises Attucks’s incredible final act and resulting death.
Crispus Attucks was a seaman of mixed African and Indigenous descent who died in Boston, Massachusetts on March 5, 1770, after two musket balls were fired by British soldiers into his chest. The Boston Massacre was born from the deaths of Attucks and four others at the hands of the 29th Regiment. Attucks was transformed instantly by his death from an anonymous sailor to a martyr for a growing revolutionary cause.
Tensions between the British rulers and American colonists ran high in March 1770. Attucks was part of a group that confronted British soldiers in Boston on that fateful day. The sailors hurled snowballs at soldiers and wielded clubs. The soldiers opened fire on the crowd in panic. Attucks was the first to die in the so-called Boston Massacre. This pivotal event brought England and the colonies to the brink of war.
Crispus Attucks was laid to rest in Faneuil Hall with the four other victims of the Massacre. He could be buried alongside them because the City of Boston had waived segregation laws. He was rightly honored and deserves to be remembered in this country.
Black History Month is a time to celebrate Harriet Tubman and Ruby Bridges, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. Their role in the fight against racism is what earned them all the renown they have. Crispus Attucks, the first American to dedicate his life to liberating the colonies under British control and to creating the greatest free nation that man has ever imagined, was Crispus Attucks. Is that not just as important?
Imagine how differently black Americans would feel about their country and themselves if one of their founding patriots was mentioned regularly. Imagine how proud, owned, equal, and patriotic they would feel for their homeland. Why is it so frightening for those in control of our educational system?