By Beverly Gadson-Birch
This month as we celebrate Black History, I am still astounded by the many achievements and inventions by Blacks. Black History is my history. It’s something I celebrate 365 days of the year because I am black 365 days of the year. I don’t focus on my ethnicity 28 or 29 days in February because I know who I am. I know where I came from and where I am headed. However, I am not naïve enough to think that all is well in these Un-United States of America. The fight for justice continues. The fight for equality continues. The fight for parity in education continues. The fight for the right to vote continues. The fight for fair lending practices continues. So, I ain’t tired yet!! I will continue to address the inequities that impede the progress of Blacks in Charleston and across America.
There are many blacks more renowned than I am that fought their way to the top. Then there are many that are just plain ole everyday Black folk like me with the desire to be treated equally. We literally have been in fighting mode all our lives until it’s become the norm. We wake up each morning anticipating a fight and we are rarely disappointed. When we pack our lunch for work each day, metaphorically speaking, we also pack our boxing gloves. Everything that was made easy for our white counterpart was made hard for us. So, that fighting spirit remains within us and longs for a hiatus.
This month, I want to share a little fact history about some little known black contributors to history. They don’t hail from the mountaintop but came up from the valley of the dry bones. So, y’all will know why I bleed black when you cut me, I had a rough road to climb. My ancestors had an even bumpier road to climb. I hail from a line of entrepreneurs, preachers, educators, carpenters, etc. who worked from sun up to sun down. My great grandmother, Sarah Robinson, made lye soap from scraps, syrup out of sugar cane and other household commodities for her family. She learned how to read the newspaper on her own when it wasn’t popular. She and her husband owned over 100 acres of land. After the death of her husband at an early age, Sarah knew it was left up to her to provide for her family. And she did. Sarah Robinson was a product of a little town called Hendersonville in Colleton County. The name was later changed to Browntown. Black folk who lived in Browntown didn’t really live in Hendersonville. They used Hendersonville as a landmark so folks could find them. There were no GPS back then. Browntown, like so many other small towns, was not on the map. I often wondered where the town got its name. Perhaps it had something to do with the “brown” habitants that resided there.
It’s not where you are from but where you are going that makes the difference. In order to be successful in life, you need to choose your direction and stay the course. I am fortunate to have come along during the time of Rev. Mack Sharp, Rev. Willis Goodwin, Rev. Omega Newman, Rev. Samuel Price, Rev. Fred Dawson, Rev. Benjamin Whipper and Rev. A. R. Blake. Those ministers made a huge impact in Charleston, South Carolina, America and upon my life. These men of courage had the audacity and tenacity to fight discrimination and injustices relentlessly.
Since we are talking Black History, President Obama personifies Black History. Yet, all of his accomplishments and efforts to herald the cause of equity in this country are being torn apart and destroyed by his successor. It was William Cullen Bryant that said, “truth crushed to earth will rise again.” And, I am a defender of the truth. Each day the hidden history, the true history, of black achievements is being revealed for the world to see but it is of little benefit to our children if they do not know it. The real history of Blacks must be taught year-round in homes, churches and schools.
I dedicate this article in honor of Muhiyidin D’baha, black like me. A young intellect who gave his all to making “black lives matter”. Who will pick up the torch and carry it forth? Let’s not let d’Baha’s life be a cry in the darkness, but a light for all to see.