The Best History Is Your Own History February 5, 2019 – Posted in: Be Inspired
Today would have been my grandmother’s 86th birthday. “Gran” as she liked to be called. She only lived to see 78 of them, but she lived her life to the fullest, hopefully with few regrets. She is the only one of my grandparents born in February. She is almost the only family member born this month really, which got me to thinking about “Black History.” Many of us think about Black History all year long; here we post Black History facts on Facebook all the time, and of course, the wall calendars all have Black History facts sprinkled throughout the year as well as some of the weekly planners. We don’t take for granted the importance of celebrating the achievements, the sacrifices, the struggles and the joys of those who paved the way before us. We celebrate the current trailblazers too, the living legends, that teach us that breaking the mold does not have to be saved for previous generations. Even though a myriad of barriers have been broken to allow many advances in our lives, it’s not lost on us that is equally hard for the Serena Williamses, the Colin Kaepernicks, the Ayanna Presleys, the Viola Davises and the Shonda Rhimeses to continue to have their voices heard and fight for a seat at the table.
As a country we annually come together to honor Black Culture for 28 straight days. Programming will feature a few classics on the struggle, maybe a few that aren’t quite so heavy but still land in the “Must See” column. Communities will host performances and screenings and festivals. Libraries will have book recommendations and maybe offer a discussion or two. My Facebook feed is extra loaded with fun facts these few weeks. Somethings you know, somethings you are surprised you never heard of. I even saw an extended end-cap in Target promoting African American vendors with a dozen or so products celebrating Black culture (yep, even Girl Trip made it up in the display, y’all). All of this is needed and appreciated and celebrated. We as a community can acknowledge Black History, but it means something for society as well to not only embrace it but to participate in it too. For Black History, is of course, Our History.
I encourage you to go a step further this year, a step closer to your roots. By all means please engage in all of the resources available, but sometimes the best look at Black History is to look within your family to your own history. How many of us really know the experiences of our parents, our aunts and uncles, and for those lucky enough to still have them with us our grandparents? Each member of our families is rich in a story that is uniquely all their own. Older family members have an extra layer of a time that maybe you cannot fully relate to that further enhances their narrative. What were the different jobs they have had in their lives? What kind of music did they listen to? Do they have any stories about their schoolyard days they can remember? It can be a challenge depending on the person and their capacity to recoup these hidden gems, but you never know what a little bit of probing may unearth. You will learn more about someone who has contributed to who you are, and they just may enjoy going back in time, that time, when life’s context was just a little bit different.
We video taped my Gran once. Asked her these very questions about her life. I have not revisited it in a while, but days like today I am glad that we at least had the conversation. I know where she worked and a few anecdotes about life in Boston and her migration to California. Her hobbies. Her favorite color. On days like this I just wish I had time to ask a little bit more.
DNA searches tell us one thing. But what of the personal DNA – the personalities, the experiences, the chapters that you have never read about your own immediate family?
We are because of them. How much can you engage with your family to discover what makes you who you are today??
Deborah Whaley February 08, 2019 - 08:55
I am thrilled to learn about my history, the ppl that paved the way before us and I am amazed to learn about the many forebearers who contributed to our country/the world that we now live in, the inventors, the scientists, the educators, the civil rights pioneers, all of the ppl of color who has contributed and forged the way for all of us. Being a child of the 50’s & 60’s, I was not taught much about our culture in school, it was very limited so to learn about the first black man who considered a model for a law man in Oklahoma was astonishing, the first woman who enabled our country to travel to the moon with her math calculations, Madame C.J. Walker of course we knew about her accomplishments in business and being the first black woman to be a millionaire, and so on. Keep sharing black history with us, it is so inspiring to learn that we are a superior race of ppl who despite the set backs we have endured and progressed.
janine February 08, 2019 - 13:14 – In reply to: Deborah Whaley
Hi Deborah, yes, the richness of Black History, and our own history, is not only fascinating but truly inspiring!
wilfred D anthony February 08, 2019 - 09:45
Your passages enclosed is among so much, gifted thoughts.My family has provided much for me over the years ,when I think,mom dad ,sisters and brothers enriched me with the knowledge of learning.The ability to think on my terms,To be real to myself life and things in which I can motivated other.Life from a black view point has so much to offer then as it does today.Many who are not of kind(Black) spends much of their ignorance trying to destroy what they are afraid of and refuse to understand.Writing what I feel is true to myself may one or this day enriched my children and the world.As once told to me” back,It’s something about that black Man(and women)which puzzle those who wish us evil,They can never be what they can’t be,Black Free
janine February 08, 2019 - 13:12 – In reply to: wilfred D anthony
Thank you so much for your feedback Wilfred! Family is so important and such a special part of our lives. Glad your family enriched you with the gift of learning!
Erica Y Darrisaw February 08, 2019 - 09:46
Very nice feature to the business.This a very unique idea. I enjoy it.
janine February 08, 2019 - 13:08 – In reply to: Erica Y Darrisaw
Thank you Erica! We would love to share more from the heart of Shades of Color and what makes not only the company but our culture tick!
Janice Brown February 08, 2019 - 16:37
Thank you for sharing such an awesome story. My father served in the U.S. ARMY for more than 30+ years. During that time he was one of the first black soldiers to complete their 82nd Airborne Training and graduate with his Airborne Wings. He was a proud man who grew up in Alabama and was raised by strong women after the death of his mother. He is our Black History Hero.
janine February 14, 2019 - 14:36 – In reply to: Janice Brown
AMAZING! Thank you for sharing a beautiful piece of YOUR history and OUR history! 30+ years… we are so grateful for his service!!