GUEST POST BY: Renford Robinson Ligon | Warrior Philosopher.
The first person of color I was introduced to was Harriet Tubman. I didn’t understand why my grandparents thought so highly of her. She was to them a savior. I thought we only believed in GOD but they would always talk about her like she cured cancer or something. As I grew older I soon realized what impact she had on Blacks during Slavery. My grandparents were born in 1906. So they were on a different level of slavery but still the burn of what built our nation was burned into their memories as young children growing up in Mississippi. Later in life, let’s say 2nd or 3rd grade, I started paying more attention to what impact blacks had on America and what it took to live here in the past. Closer to my generation was Martin Luther King and Malcolm X – In my younger years I took more of a liking to Malcolm X because I saw him as more powerful than MLK. Both men were killed prior to their messages reaching the masses. However, we heard it. I knew every February I would read about these two gentlemen. One was strong and one was nice…they both were murdered.
I lived in California in my younger years and gangs became our black history heroes. I heard names like Black Panthers and how they took care of the community. I remember that they were strong and took care of all the kids. OH, and the Crips, back in the 70’ they were great. Not sure what unfolded in the decades to come. I can only assume things started to change with the crack pandemic and spread of drugs.
According to some reports, Stanley (“Tookie”) Williams and Raymond Washington, both high schoolers in Los Angeles, founded the Crips in 1971 for protection from gang violence. Others claim that Washington, inspired by the Black Panthers, formed a political group in 1969 that evolved into a street gang.
The 80’s were a blur of culture change and CRACK! All of our neighborhood heroes were falling victim to it. I wasn’t looking to our Black Leaders for support because we didn’t have any where I was. We would go back to Harriet Tubman, MLK and Malcolm X. I thought to myself... these can’t be the only blacks that did something in History.
Then RAP happened!!!! Wow! I was being Black again! What a great time…1989! Public Enemy! KRS-1! X-Clan and all the rappers that were supporting the Green Black and Red! This was a great time to get the black men and women back on the right path. We didn’t have a Malcolm anymore but we had a Chuck D!!! I started to gravitate towards Blacks that were actually impactful but never received credit. And then, I started to write… my eyes opened to a whole new world because most of the time I didn’t hear about the great mathematicians like Katherine G. Johnson, poets like Langston Hughes, Sociologist/author/writer W.E.B Du Bois, singer, movie star, activist LENA HORNE. I know for a fact the Black Man typing this is going to do something to make history….so should the rest of us.