Bloody Sunday: We owe it to each other to learn the past, or we’re bound to repeat it
ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - School was tough for me, initially. I was convinced I was dumb. I heard it everywhere. Home. School. Friends.
What no one knew is I could not see. Until Easter Seals. In 3rd grade. First came a free eye exam. Then, an ugly pair of black rims, but immediate clarity of sight.
Struggling to read, I started to devour books. I had a lot of catching up to do! But I only had access to books in my school library, which in rural Oklahoma were limited by design, or economics. (I SAY BOTH!)
No social media. No cell phones. No money to buy books. My view of the world at that impressionable age was limited. No one talked about or taught black history.
I was in a bubble.
Growing up, the three things I associated with Black History were my own absent father, heavy drinkers I witnessed in my own family and the ONLY five heroes my school taught about: Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass and George Washington Carver.
King and Parks were heroes for peaceful protests. Douglass for exceptional intelligence. Tubman for freeing slaves. And Carver epitomized the benefits of my family’s hard work. Carver developed many uses for the peanut.
FYI: I happen to be the last generation in my family to harvest peanuts. It’s some dusty, hot work. Trust me.
My mother, had she known about her own black heritage, would have likely helped me. Mom had an 8th grade education. She was half black and half native American and identified more with her tribe.
When you are working to survive, maybe history takes a back seat? I’m not absolutely sure. The facts that shaped our lives was my mom working hard as a farm laborer. School was not the priority. Think about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. I do. Even if mom did love history, she barely had time to share. She was ALWAYS at work.
It wasn’t until I entered college — at my freshman college orientation — I learned there was a Black National Anthem.
Never. Ever. Heard it.
So many awakenings. African American fraternities and sororities. Really? A club of black people? Growing up, I only had three people in my class who were black. I was the third! Only one black teacher my entire life. She told me I would never get an engineering degree.
She was right. LOL. I got an MBA instead.
Not one single book existed on him. I was told Malcolm X was a Black Panther and a mercenary. Imagine my awakening to learn the truth.
Next: Kwanzaa. What? A Black Christmas?! Never. Ever. Heard of it.
Then: Jesus had hair of wool, like mine. Really? He’s not blonde and blue eyed?
Whaaaaat??? Nat Turner? Black Wall Street — in Oklahoma by the way — I did not learn about until I was in my late 20′s. Madam CJ Walker, the first self-made black millionaire? Shirley Chilsom? Thurgood Marshall? Huey P. Newton? Katherine Johnson of Hidden Figures fame?
Selma? Bloody Sunday? John Lewis? The right to vote?
In high school, I learned of Malcom X. We were hushed, however, if anyone brought up his name.
This was ALL foreign.
And now? There’s no shame. I see it all as a blessing. Black history has become a passion and pursuit.
I can’t change my past. I am responsible for my future.’
I am taking a trek Sunday to Selma — with a bus load of people from our communities — to learn more about the Bloody Sunday, 55 years ago. To cross the Pettus Bridge. To observe and to fully grasp the sacrifice made by others to give ALL OF US the right to vote.
We owe it to each other to learn the past. Or we are bound to repeat it. I am humbled to take this journey Sunday. And to bring you the powerful stories of people on that bus back to Selma.
I hope you’ll join us at 9 a.m., 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. Sunday only on CBS46. Let’s shed some light!
NOTE: CBS46 evening anchor Shon Gables joined the community on a bus pilgrimage to the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala. on Sunday. Prior to taking that journey, Shon reflected on her childhood in rural Oklahoma, the importance of learning about black history, and the significance of the 55th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. Here is her story.
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