Next month is the official time set for Black History Month. However, the life of every African American family is a contributor to Black History, every month and every day. I can remember things that happened that made my family history and how I contributed to it. For instance, this morning I woke up early to write this column and made myself coffee and cinnamon toast. I remember that my mother made us cinnamon toast by spreading some butter on bread, and sprinkling some cinnamon and sugar on top, and placing it in the lower oven (broiler).
Now, I buy cinnamon bread by the loaf, and my grandchildren love it. I throw it in the toaster and out comes a piece of cinnamon toast. You can butter the toast and place some jelly on it, and you are good to go.
If you go back far enough, our ancestors milked the cow, churned the milk-fat, making butter and buttermilk. The coffee of long ago was preserved grounds, boiled over and over again. For some reason I remember egg shells placed in the coffee grounds. I don’t remember why. Hopefully, someone will call, write, e-mail or text me why. Also, hopefully someone will call or write or e-mail or text me to tell me why, egg shells.
I have just mentioned a world which young people today know nothing about, i.e., milking cows, churning butter, reusing coffee grounds. Also, I have mentioned telephone calls, but there weren’t always telephones back then. Now, everybody seems to have a telephone of their own which is essentially a cell phone/computer in their pockets. E-mails and text messages all relates to a computer world that didn’t exist when I was young.
Although the things I mentioned are all relatively new, there are some things that stay the same. It comes to the front when an African American football player named Richard Sherman expresses his glee at playing a good game. All of a sudden this Compton-raised, Stanford University graduate is a thug because of his comments. However, his comments were instructive. He said that some people who commented and called him a thug had, in effect, replaced the “N” word with the word thug. We’ve seen it before with Muhammad Ali and other African Americans and white performers, too, who sometimes left their humility at home. It is all part of the history of American sports.
The question for each of us is what will be your family’s contribution to African American History be? Will it add a plus or a minus? Believe it or not, I have two grandchildren who are in college. One is doing an internship in Washington, D.C. I have a grandson in junior high who is headed for greatness. My other four grandchildren are also accomplished in their own right. None of their successes will be heralded as major accomplishments as African Americans, but merely Americans.
African American History is full of names from, Denmark Veasey, Frederick Douglass and A.G. Gaston, to Barack Obama. African Americans have been stage coach drivers, criminals who take, and builders who create, Preachers who handled God’s business, and others who thought they were God. Next month is a time to take stock of your family’s contributions and what you all are contributing.