Op/Ed By Gloria Winston –
What is important about the focus on Black History Month is the pressure it puts on some parents to sit down and educate their children about the discrepancies which exist when our history is left to others to report.
For instance, the recent unveiling of a bust that was supposed to be the likeness of Nefertiti, an Egyptian queen and pharaoh who mysteriously disappeared in the late 1300 BC, was focused on the color of her skin.
I don’t know about you, but when I saw it, she appeared to be a white European woman.
Now, anyone with common sense knows that was a definite attempt to rewrite history, because – in case you were not aware – Egyptians are African, and they are proud Africans who do not deny their ancestry.
As a result, the bust was not only insulting to African people, but a clear example of how our history can be distorted by those who have the responsibility to tell the truth about us as a people.
But, if you don’t know who Nefertiti is, then you could not have taught your kids about who she was, and is, to us.
Writing people in and out of history has contributed majorly to our people’s ignorance about themselves.
That’s why telling the truth, not distorting it, is important.
As the founder of About Time Magazine, Black History Month, and local reporting, has become personally painful for me.
And, the local reporting of the magazine’s history has never gotten it right.
We have those among us who know the truth, but who have failed, with each passing February, to pay homage to the fact that the magazine was founded in 1970, after I served in the Black Panther Party.
My grand children, and their children, have a right to know the truth about the origin of About Time, and how I was the one who put it in the street with the format, and the logo, it maintains today.
No one has the right to ignore the facts.
And, as long as I draw breath, I won’t let them.
Recently, there was a successful historical awards ceremony that was put together to honor the achievements of black men in Rochester.
I applaud Jermayne Myers for his efforts, along with the committee that assisted him.
I was also more than pleased to applaud the winners.
Not everyone was deserving, in my opinion, but I do applaud them, and the much-needed event, overall.
I have a reputation for saying what others are thinking, and I am too old to change now.
I was not on the committee, and therefore I did not vote for anyone. But, being the critic that I am, I did wonder about the voting process, and how much personalty and politics may have played a role in it.
I know from experience that a lot of hard work went into the success and attendance of the event.
But, I would be remiss if I did not question how Dr. Walter Cooper was in the audience, and his name was never mentioned.
I also wondered how Minister Franklin Florence Sr., another icon and elder whose shoulders many stand on, got overlooked, especially since the focus was on those who are still living.
By no means am I attempting to throw shade, but I hope my words are being considered as reminders of the ways we may sometimes overlook those who have truly made contributions to our community.
Whoever they are, and wherever they are, they still need to be sent flowers while they can smell them.
I have heard complaints in the background about the same people being honored over and over again, and my response to that is, maybe it is because they are supposed to be.
Just because people get older, it does not mean that their work should be forgotten.
For instance, the school named after Dr. Cooper has a 94 percent attendance rate, mainly because he is still on the battlefield making a difference.
How many people know about that?
Collectively, we just need to make sure we are writing and telling our own history with as much accuracy as those who are laying the foundation deserve.
We need to be diligent and mindful of committing the same acts of fraud, or rewriting history, that we often accuse others of doing to us as a people.
There is no way someone in their 40s has contributed as much as the soldiers in the trenches who were, or are, men in their late 80s.
We have some folks in this community who have been true stakeholders, and that have been further around the block than some may have been around a ham bone.
Unfortunately, I am confident there are those among us who will misinterpret my words, and my concerns.
But, my opinion is not up for debate.
I’m just blessed enough to have been afforded a platform that allows me to say so!!
That said, congratulations to all of the winners of the “2018 Rochester Black Men Achieve Awards.”
Here is a list of the winners:
Bishop Gregory Parris Inspirational Leader of the Year: Pastor Melvin Cross Jr
Civil & Human Rights Activist of the Year: Demond Meeks
Community Leader of the Year: Doc Leonard M. Brock
Charles Price Community Policeman of the Year: Moses Robinson
Distinguished Public Service Servant of the Year: Adam McFadden
Distinguished Fraternal Order Organization of the Year: Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. – Eta Rho Lambda Chapter
Distinguished Health Professional of the Year: Lee Davis
Distinguished Educator of the Year: Cory Johnson
Distinguished School Leader of the Year: Walter Larkin Jr.
Distinguished Lawyer of the Year: Hon. Judge Stephen T. Miller
Distinguished Brother of the Year: Demond Meeks
Entertainer of the Year: Tony Simmons
Firefighter of the Year: Ernest Flagler-Mitchell
Future Man of the Year: Jeremiah West & Joshua West
Man of the Year: Doc Leonard M. Brock
Musician of the Year: Jimmie Tjari Highsmith
Outstanding Literary Work of the Year: Kareem Jay Hayes
Outstanding News & Media Programming: 103.9 WDKX Wake-up Club
Outstanding Journalist or News/Media Host of the Year: Richard J. McCollough
Outstanding Executive and/or Entrepreneur of the Year: James Norman
Outstanding Men’s Program of the Year: Operation Transformation Rochester
Outstanding Youth Program of the Year: Boys and Girls Club of Rochester
Outstanding Community Organization of the Year: Action for a Better Community Inc.
Outstanding Business of the Year: City of Rochester, NY – Mayor’s Office
Sportsman of the Year: Willie “El Mongoose” Monroe Jr.
Visual Artist of the Year: Christopher Cardwell