In 1619, the ﬁrst ship with Africans on board headed for America. It landed on the shores of North America for a life of slavery/free labor. This period would end in 1863, followed by years of quasi-slavery, or Jim Crow. At the end of Jim Crow would be followed by ten years of Reconstruction.
Reconstruction was capped by a sense of equality ex-slaves got the vote, and were elected ofﬁcials, including representatives in Congress. Hiram R. Revels, Senator Benjamin S. Turner, Robert C. De Large, Josiah T. Walls, Jefferson H. Long, Joseph H. Rainy and R. Brown Elliot served as the United States ﬁrst black elected ofﬁcials.
Over the years, Black America suffered and played catch up. They became billionaires, movie stars, athletic superstars, Corporate business giants and owners. Names like Oprah, Gail, Sammy, Jay-Z, Beyonce, Muhammad Ali, Roots, Roscoe’s, and Ta-Neshi Coates, became household names.
Sugar and cotton plantations created American wealth with the free zero cost of labor. They got freedom and a sense of equality, except for a system that saw them as inferior. Over the years, blacks earned their place in American Society with over one hundred schools designated to black students as part of the Historical Black Colleges and Universities. These schools were in addition to better known schools where blacks were not allowed to attend. When black students were allowed, they studied at all-white colleges as well as black colleges and became Doctors, Lawyers, Accountants, Realtors and all other professions. From this many amassed wealth and positions that allowed them to become the world’s elite.
I was taught by my parents that I could be anything I wanted to be if I just applied myself. I instinctively knew what that meant. I decided to become a barber. Then I wanted to become a lawyer. In each case, I was told by a black professional that I could be a barber then a lawyer. I believed them and set out to achieve that profession. Becoming a lawyer was merely a dream, but my mentor told me he believed I could. It took me seventeen years, but I made it.
If young people would believe in themselves and their abilities, they could do great things. Most people sell themselves short. When black folks came out of slavery, they understood the value of and bought real property and a few necessities where they could reproduce things and make a living. A sewing machine, a cow or a few chickens all had utility as income producing assets.
The rules are still the same. You need to buy Real Property because it represents wealth. You need to buy income producing assets because they can be re-sold and create wealth. Many young people who acquire some wealth use their newfound wealth to buy something ﬂashy.
We have had to overcome slavery and legalized Jim Crow. We elected a Black President named Barack Obama, but with each new generation, we still have more work to do. The attacks may be different, but the results are the same. We’re still considered “the least, the last, and the left out,” but still we rise!