Dr. Carter G. Woodson and the work he left behind certainly makes the case today for the study of Black History. Without his work most of us would not know who we are or how many things we have done to contribute not only to this nation but also to mankind. For 195 years, the Black Press has been a guardian and transmitter of our history. When it was against the law to teach a slave to read and write, the Black Press was already telling our story to those who could read or just listen as others read to them.
Oh, how far we have come. Today we have the freedom to read, but too few of us are reading. Social media and its abbreviated written language, along with television and the internet, have replaced our desire too often to even open a book. But now, more than ever, is the time to once again add reading to learning and following our history in the making. The Black Press not only carries our history and stories, continuing the work of Dr. Carter G. Woodson, but our press has extended our stories to the digital world providing news and facts that we can rely on coming from our “trusted messengers”. But none of this works if we don’t take the time to embrace, read and digest the written story of our past and present, as told by us.
Our newspapers have survived because of “us” and not because of the large ad accounts we never had. We never had the large grocery store, department stores and automobile dealership accounts. We never had the large newsrooms, printing presses and classifieds accounts that made White papers rich. But we continued to tell our story with the help of so many of us who volunteered services and time to share our stories with those among us.
This Black History Month is probably one of the most important in our history. We are under attack as Jim Crow racism moves on voter suppression in the form of reducing voting sites and equipment, and replacing true election officials with those who have bought The Big Lie that Trump is still President. We must speak truth to power as we remind our brothers and sisters of the racism of voter denial, the counting of jelly beans in a jar as permission to vote, and the push for what White Conservatives are calling “Critical Race Theory” as a means of re-writing our history without racism and lynchings which they imposed upon us.
If they pass laws to restrict our voting, then we, as the Black Press and Media, must use “Print” and “electronic” means to remind us of why history says we can’t allow those with such practices to stop us. We must ignite the perseverance of our history to rise in numbers above the challenges being placed before us. We must become so laser-focused that our lives and the lives of those who agree with us out number our opponents. President Biden is only a symbol of what we are struggling for: to keep America an inclusive democracy. It’s up to us to reignite the spirit and faith of our fathers that brought us this far so that we don’t lose ground. It comes down to “Our History, Our Print and You”. We must write our story, today which will be our history tomorrow, and we must make sure that we are included in telling our own stories.
Dr. John E. Warren is the publisher and CEO of the San Diego Voice and Viewpoint
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