When my brother and I were younger we attended a school that at the time was about 95% white. St Paul Lutheran was a private school, and my parents sacrificed a great deal to send us there. Although the school offered many benefits; there was one major problem, the small number of us who were black and attended there were incorrectly taught our history. One day my brother came home and told my Mom that his teacher told him that our ancestors were from Europe.
The next day my Mom went out and purchased the book Great Negros Past and Present. From that day on my brother and I would write book reports on black history both for school and home just using that book. My parents began to make sure that our home was a place where we learned about our history. We spent many Saturdays at the DuSable Museum, Chicago’s African American History Museum. We attended the Kuumba Theater and saw plays like The Jonestown Massacre by Charles Fuller and The Amen Corner by James Baldwin . Black art showcased our home and Sundays was of course church where we met prominent people like, the late Mayor Harold Washington, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Louis Farrakhan and the list goes on and on.
Recently my job hosted a Martin Luther King Jr. celebration and the speaker was Dr. Russell Adams. Jr. When I found out he was the speaker I noticed that his name sounded familiar to me. As I looked at his biography I noticed he wrote the aforementioned book on black history. When I had the opportunity to speak to Dr. Russell I wanted to tell him what his book meant to me and how it influenced my home life. When we did speak I thanked him for all he did in the name of history and for me it was a full circle moment
The sad tale of Ota Benga.
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