Black History Month is world history every day | Michael Coard

Africa is the cradle of humankind. And it is also the cradle of civilization

A monument to Harrisburg’s 8th Ward and the 15th and 19th amendments is announced on the Capitol Steps.

By Michael Coard

As pointed out by the international scholar, preeminent historian, and prolific author Molefi Kete Asante during a Jan. 9 lecture, Africans were the first humans/homo sapiens on this planet beginning 300,000 years ago in the Nile Valley region of East Africa.

Michael Coard (Twitter)

And for 75% of that time, which equals 225,000 years, they were the only humans on this planet.

It wasn’t until just 75,000 years ago that other “ethnic” groups eventually came into existence after slowly migrating out of Africa and thereby developing pale skin and stringy hair due to reduced melanin resulting from a change in climate from sunny to cloudy.

Accordingly, Africa is the cradle of humankind.

And it is also the cradle of civilization because the following are just a few examples of the hundreds of inventions, creations, and discoveries from there:

  • Agriculture — Nabta Playa and Bir Kiseiba region of Egypt/Kemet, 9500 BCE
  • Algebra — Egypt/Kemet by Ahmes, 1500 BCE
  • Architecture — Egypt/Kemet by Imhotep, 2600 BCE
  • Astronomy — Nabta Playa region of Egypt/Kemet is where the world’s first astronomical site was built, 7500 BCE
  • Calculus — Egypt/Kemet by Tishome, 1500 BCE
  • Calendar (“Adam’s Calendar) — Egypt/Kemet, 300,000 BCE
  • Cotton — Eastern Sudan/Nubia, 5000 BC
  • Medicine — “Father of Medicine” wasn’t Hippocrates, a Greek, born in 450 BCE. It was Imhotep, an Egyptian/Kemite who lived 2,200 years earlier in 2680 BCE
  • Religion/Monotheism — Egypt/Kemet, 1350 BCE
  • Writing — Sudan/Nubia, 5000 BCE

Oh, by the way, don’t forget about some of our many inventions, creations, and discoveries in America:

  • Air Conditioning Unit Design — Frederick Jones 1942
  • Dry Cleaning Process — Thomas Jennings 1821 (The first Black person to receive a U.S. patent for an invention)
  • Elevator (Modern) — Alexander Miles 1887
  • Global Positioning System/GPS (Development) — Gladys West, pre-1973
  • Home Heating Ventilation System — Alice Parker 1919
  • Home Security Alarm Video System — Marie Brown 1969
  • Ice Cream — Augustus Jackson 1832
  • Light Bulb (Modern) — Lewis Latimer 1881
  • Lock (Modern) — Washington Martin 1889
  • Potato Chip — George Crum (aka George Speck) early 1850s
  • Refrigeration (Frozen Food) Transport System — Frederick Jones 1949
  • Remote Control/TV Programmable — Joseph N. Jackson 1978
  • Telephone Blueprint — Lewis Latimer 1878
  • Thermostat Temperature Control System — Frederick Jones 1960
  • Traffic Signal (Traffic Light Forerunner) — Garrett Morgan 1923
  • Trolley/Electric Railway — Elbert Robinson 1893

If Black people knew where they came from and what their ancestors did, they wouldn’t tolerate the racism inflicted upon them by white people.

And if white people knew about the real history of Africa and African descendants, they wouldn’t have their false sense of racist “supremacy.”

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But they know. They’re simply in denial because admitting the truth would destroy their foundation of fake superiority. That’s exactly why, as documented on Education Week’s website, “Since January 2021, 35 states have introduced bills or taken other steps that would restrict teaching … [Black history and truthful American history] or limit how teachers can discuss racism …. Fourteen states have imposed these bans and restrictions either through legislation or other avenues.”

However, none of that really matters. For the most part, I don’t care what they decide to teach or not teach. And that’s because I don’t trust them in schools (or anywhere else, for that matter because, as our Red brothers and sisters say, “They speak with forked tongue”).

If Black people knew where they came from and what their ancestors did, they wouldn’t tolerate the racism inflicted upon them by white people.

And as Malcolm X is quoted as proclaiming, “Only a fool would let his enemy teach his children.” Accordingly, I say “We must teach our own children, dammit.”

Carter G. Woodson, born 50 years before Malcolm, agrees.

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That is why, precisely 96 years ago in February 1926, Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), of which he was a co-founder, first celebrated Negro History Week, which had been publicly announced in 1925. It was renamed Black History Week in 1972 and ultimately became Black History Month in 1976.

In 1912, Woodson — later recognized as the “Father of Black History” — became the first person of enslaved parents to receive a doctoral degree from Harvard University. While a student at that elite Ivy League school and attending a lecture there, he was told by one of his professors that Africans and African Americans “had no history.” Instead of merely getting angry, Woodson got even and did so through researching and organizing.

A little known fact about Negro History Week is that, as noted by ASNLH (now called the Association for the Study of African American Life and History or ASALH), Woodson “never viewed black history as a one week affair.

He pressed for schools to use Negro History Week to demonstrate what students learned all year. It was in this sense that Blacks would learn of their past on a daily basis that he looked forward to the time when an annual celebration would no longer be necessary.” Also, he “believed that Black history was too important to America and the world to be crammed into a limited time frame. He spoke of a shift from Negro History Week to Negro History Year.”

As a result of Woodson’s and ASALH’s meticulous research, as well as the meticulous research of African-centered scholars such as Marimba Ani, Asante, Henry E. Baker, Charles Blockson, Michael Bradley, Jacob Caruthers, Cheikh Anta Diop, Asa Hilliard, Yosef Ben Jochannan, Edward Robinson, J.A. Rogers, Ivan Van Sertima, Frances Cress Welsing, Chancellor Williams, and many others, we now know that Africans and African Americans not only have history but also have the oldest history on the planet along with some of the greatest discoveries in world history and some of the greatest inventions and innovations in American history.

Therefore, on Feb. 1, start celebrating Black History Month. Correction — today start celebrating world history every day as invented, created, and discovered in Africa by Africans and in America by African Americans.

Opinion contributor Michael Coard, an attorney and radio host, is a columnist for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this piece first appeared

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The Pennsylvania Capital-Star welcomes opinion pieces from writers who share our goal of widening the conversation on how politics and public policy affects the day-to-day lives of people across the commonwealth.