BAILEY: Guidance from Wise, Courageous Ancestral Warriors

It was in 1619, 400 years ago, that the first African captives were brought to what is now Virginia. Since that time, many of our courageous ancestral warriors, men and women, have fought against the physical and psychological terrorism inflicted by the proponents of white supremacy/racism. If we, as people of African descent, had paid more attention to and agreed upon the guidance and advice from our ancestors, we would most definitely be further ahead in the war for equal rights, equal justice and equal opportunity. Their directives include the following:

David Walker: “I pray that the Lord undeceive my ignorant brethren, and permit them to throw away pretensions, and seek after the substance of learning. I would crawl on my hands and knees through mud and mire, to the feet of a learned man, where I would sit and humbly supplicate him to instill into me that which neither devils nor tyrants could remove, only with my life — for colored people to acquire learning in this country makes tyrants quake and tremble on their sandy foundations.”

Mary McLeod Bethune: “If our people are to fight their way out of bondage, we must arm them with the sword and the shield and the buckler of pride — belief in themselves and their possibilities, based upon sure knowledge of the achievements of the past. That knowledge and that pride we must give them if it breaks every back in the kingdom!”

Benjamin E. Mays: “I hope we will make it clear to ourselves and our children — that whether we believe in integration, separatism or nationalism, there is no substitute for a trained mind. For the future belongs — always has and always will belong — to the man who knows, and the man who has skills.”

Martin Luther King Jr.: “Education without social action is a one-sided value because it has no true power potential. Social action without education is a weak expression of pure energy. Deeds uninformed by educated thought can take false directions. When we go into action and confront our adversaries, we must be as armed with knowledge as they are. Our policies should have the strength of deep analysis beneath them to be able to challenge the clever sophistries of our opponents.”

Malcolm X: “Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today. … Just because you have colleges and universities doesn’t mean you have education. The colleges and universities in the American system are skillfully used to miseducate.”

Carter G. Woodson: “No systematic effort toward change has been possible, for, taught the same economics, history, philosophy, literature and religion which have established the present code of morals, the Negro’s mind has been brought under the control of his oppressor. The problem of holding the Negro down, therefore, is easily solved.

“When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his ‘proper place’ and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit. His education makes it necessary.”

W.E.B. Du Bois: “May God write us down as asses if ever again we are found putting trust in either the Republican or Democratic parties.”

Frederick Douglass: “It is easier to raise a strong child than to repair a broken man.”

Marcus Garvey: “Our leader will not be a white man with a black heart nor a Black man with a white heart but a Black man with a black heart.”

Harold Cruse: “The Black man’s one great and present hope is to know and understand Afro-American history.”

Lerone Bennett Jr.: “Given one way we were forced to live in this society, the miracle is not how so many families are broken, but that so many are still together. That so many black mothers are still raising good children, is the incredible toughness and resilience in black people that gives me hope.”

C. Delores Tucker: “We believe that anyone who will condone, support, produce or profit from gangsta rap is conspirator in the denigration and destruction of the black community. We will not be silent and allow our youth and our community to be murdered. We will not be silent and allow our women to be degraded and denigrated …”

Steven Biko: “The most important weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.”

Fannie Lou Hamer: “For 300 years, we’ve given them time. And I’ve been tired so long, now I am sick and tired of being sick and tired. We want a change.”

And though she is not an ancestor, the following advice from Dr. Atallah Shabazz, the eldest daughter of Brother Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz, is very pertinent: “Remember when you are with your grandparents, you are holding the hands of history.”

Bailey, whose latest book is “Witnessing Brother Malcolm X: The Master Teacher,” can be reached at apeterb@verizon.net.

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