Lest we forget, or even more pathetic, lest we become lethargic
By Cheryl Smith
Another Black History Month is upon us and reflecting back just a year ago, we began the month with the death of an icon, Don Cornelius, of Soul Train fame, and also music great David Peaston. As the month continued with celebrations of the vast contributions of Black people, the list grew longer as we learned of the death of Whitney Houston, the brutal murder of Terrance Hunt, the peaceful passing of Bandele Tyehimba and the murder of Trayvon Martin.
They say that the older you get, the smaller the world becomes. At one point last year my head was spinning as I said farewell to people near and dear, as well as some where the contact may have been one or two degrees of separation.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Cornelius on my radio show, back in the 1990s. I went to school with Whitney’s oldest brother, Gary, and my mother and a few of her sister-friends/church members made up the small entourage that traveled with Whitney’s mom Cissy, for her induction into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1999. Terrance was the president of the D/FW FAMU Alumni Chapter and an ardent supporter. I’ve known the Tyehim-ba Family for decades and am so appreciative of the efforts they made through the Pan African Connection Bookstore and Resource Center. Then there’s young Trayvon, whose brother attended class with my niece at Florida A&M University. And there were others. We all remember losses we have suffered and the deep pain that tears won’t wash away and kind words won’t ease.
I remember holding my pillow tightly after a week of phone calls, emails and text messages as if by staying in bed would put an end to the bad news. I took a moment to call my friend Miles Jaye after hearing that his father, who like me enjoyed bowling, had made the transition.
February was supposed to be a month of celebration and commemoration but I found myself at wakes and memorial services, offering my condolences and hoping that I said something comforting. Then there was the anger felt as I listened to Trayvon’s cries for help on that fateful evening.
Just like with Rodney King where we were able to glean insight into what others endured as we watched him being brutally beaten by Los Angeles police officers; we heard numerous accounts from 911 callers.
I can’t begin to imagine the thoughts going through Mrs. Sybrina Fulton head every day as she lives with the loss of her son. On the occasions when we have talked, I have marveled over how gracious and endearing she is. On Feb. 5, 2013, Trayvon Benjamin Martin, should have been celebrating his 18th birthday.
Folks will hear more and more about her and Trayvon’s father as George Zimmerman is tried for Trayvon’s murder. Just as I said a prayer for all who have experienced losses, along with those who have experienced births —because they will need prayers too, I hope that folks will show compassion and not become jaded to a point where the loss of life is not a big deal. Trayvon joins a long list of violent deaths occurring daily.
We need to be speaking out more about the loss of lives to violence, whether it’s because of guns, knives, drugs, suicide, food, inadequate healthcare, etc.
As we remember our history, and those who have passed this way, we must remember key dates and times like:
* Feb. 1, 1865 John Rock was the first African American lawyer to practice in front of the U.S. Supreme Court,
* Feb. 4, 1913 – Rosa Parks born
* Feb. 7, 1926 – The first Negro History Week begins; later expanded in 1976 to an entire month
* Feb. 9, 1906 – Author and poet Paul Laurence Dunbar dies
* Feb. 10, 1989 – Ronald H. Brown becomes chair-man of the Democratic Na-tional Committee
* Feb. 11, 1990 – Nelson Mandela is freed after 27 years in prison
* Feb. 12, 1909 – National Association for the Ad-vancement of Colored Peo-ple is formed
* Feb. 14, 1957 – Southern Christian Leadership Con-ference is formed. Rev. Mar-tin Luther King Jr., is elected first president
* Feb. 15, 1964 – Louis Armstrong’s “Hello Dolly” is number one on Bill-board’s Top 40
* Feb. 17, 1942 – Huey P. Newton , co-founder of the Black Panther Party is born
* Feb. 18, 1688 – Quakers in Germantown, PA pass first formal antislavery re-solution
* Feb. 19, 1940 – William “Smokey” Robinson is born
* Feb. 21, 1965 – Malcolm X is assassinated
* Feb. 23, 1868 – W.E.B. Dubois is born
* Feb. 24, 1811 – First African American college president, Daniel A. Payne, is born
* Feb. 25 1870 – Hiram Revels takes the oath of of-fice as the first Black U.S. Senator,
* Feb. 27, 1988 – Debi Thomas becomes the first African American to win a medal in the Winter Olympic Games
February 7 is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Do you know your status? Are you still having unprotected sex? There shouldn’t be any reason for the increase in new cases of HIV/AIDS. We must get our stuff together. It’s time out for unprotected sex, down low sex, and carelessness.