The movie “Hidden Figures,” in telling the story of three black women mission critical to NASA, is one that should be viewed by all residents of the USA and elsewhere. Mathematical genius Katherine Johnson, computer ace Dorothy Vaughan, and aspiring engineer Mary Jackson showed how black women defied the odds in non-traditional fields to calculate the trajectory of orbits for the space program and for generations to follow. The only problem is until now, most had not heard of their achievements. Therein is the rub, for we have polluted history by too often telling an inaccurate story, lionizing Martin Luther King , Jr. to the exclusion of other worth people with a holiday, streets, etc. while our Hidden Figures remain out of sight, though they have done even more in creating opportunities and making a way out of no way.
When I look at how my fellow Jews have captured our history, it is critical to note that it always starts with Abraham, not the Holocaust, and it leaps into Einstein, Spielberg, and other greats of achievement. Others may comment, but the African-American story should be ours to tell. As a friend frequently reminds us, as long as the lion is quiet, his story will be written by the hunters.
Black History did not begin in slavery but antedates the founding of this nation, delving into the early explorers, all of Africa, Haiti, and where others of color may have resided. In reading "The Master’s Slave, Elijah John Fisher: A Biography" by Miles Mark Fisher (my father), it hadn’t dawned on me the significance of my grandfather’s family history, noting his father (my great grandfather) descended from the Zulu’s, where one of his kin was a chieftain. He also owned his own farm and married Charlotte, whose father was a Creek Indian with African blood. Thus we are a people who were native to this land, as well as deposed from Africa and did not immigrate here.
Black History needs to be better incorporated into our textbooks before the seventh grade and in North Carolina bound as part of the state’s glorious history. Our history needs to be correct and not laden with media and subcultural bias. If we don’t know that Charles Hamilton Houston was the first African American on the Harvard Law Review not Barack Obama then we denigrate our history and fail to give credit where credit is past due. When we herald the Greensboro lunch counter sit-in’s at F. W. Woolworth’s as a first, neglecting those at The Royal Ice Cream Parlor at the corner of Durham, North Carolina’s Roxboro and Dowd Streets, we misunderstand that others beat the historically glorified to the punch. Appreciate that in 1933 Attorneys Conrad O. Pearson and Cecile McCoy were the first to challenge segregation in higher education using the UNC System with a team including lead attorney William H. Hastie (Houston’s cousin, a diplomat and first federal judge), Thurgood Marshall (who would go on to become an Associate Chief U.S. Supreme Court Justice), and Constance Baker Mobley (the first female federal judge, state senator, and Burrough’s President of Manhattan, New York City, and the first female federal judge) were part of this dynamic team on a case which laid the ground work and preceded Brown vs. Board of Education, Topeka, Kansas.
Martin Luther King was not the only or most significant person of color to do things for the equality of man and seeing others not appreciated gives a distorted view of history. Look around for hometown heroes whose contributions were significant though they remain hidden from history before squandering a significant naming opportunity in the area where you live.
Our children must be taught more about who they are, how we came to be at this point in time and why we must always be non-hesitant to pay the dues that humanity requires. Many blame too much on racism, which is likely to be ever present, and want to sing “We shall overcome” rather than understand how to prepare for a changing world where you are not entitled to the job you want but rather may be forced into those which you can get.
My parents often talked about “uplifting the race” understanding that we must reproduce ourselves noting now a stagnant black population buying into abortion as a birth control option saw us being those increasingly being controlled. We must work and charity is to be a last resort unless you are rendering it to others. We must not embarrass ourselves or be an embarrassment to our people for we are unfortunately judged by the action of any one of us. As noted in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem "A Psalm of Life," "Let us then be up and doing with a heart for any fate; still achieving, still pursing, learn to labor and to wait."
Dr. Ada M. Fisher was the first black woman to serve as the Republican National Committeewoman. She was a candidate for the U.S. Senate from North Carolina, a candidate for U.S. Congress, and a candidate for the North Carolina House of Representatives. She is the author of "Common Sense Conservative Prescriptions Solutions for What Ails Us, Book I." For more of her reports, Go Here Now.
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