What More Must We Do?

Submitted by T. Darnice Camp, Black Advisory Council Chair 2021
March 25, 2021

What More Must We Do?

In 1619 twenty enslaved Africans were brough to Jamestown, Virginia by a Dutch ship stripped of their language, history, culture, religion, and customs.  In America, this is where African American history starts and ends. 

It is estimated that six to seven million Africans in the 18th century were imported into America for the purpose of enslaved labor.  They learned new ways of life under the unkindest environments.  They learned brand new ways of speaking and communicating.  They learned new ways to live, persist, and flourish.  They learned regardless of the barriers and obstructions constantly placed in their pathway to becoming more than their captures wanted to them to be or know.  They learned to become great from less than favorable expectations. 

Then in 2020 in the time span of eight minutes and 46 seconds, what was old was new again.

What More Must We Do?

What more must we do to be considered human beings and equal?

  • The first permanent black settlement in America was established in 1738 in Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose (Fort Mose), Florida. 
  • The first poem written by an African American came in 1746 when Lucy Terry wrote Bars Fight.  Lucy Terry Prince was known for “the fluency of her speech captivated all around her” skills she used to successfully argue a Supreme Court over ownership of her family land against two leading lawyers in Vermont. 
  • In 1750 the first free school for black children opened in Pennsylvania by Anthony Benezet. 
  • The BlackPast lists the first honorary Master’s degree awarded to Lemuel Haynes in 1804 from Middlebury College. 
  • William Hall freed Prince established Prince Hall Masons in Boston in 1775, African Lodge No. 1, charged with speaking out against slavery and the denial of black rights.  This is still an institution important in many African Americans communities today.
  • The first furniture and cabinet marker in America was Thomas Day of North Carolina. 

In 1868, with Amendment XIV, the Constitution had finally given black men full citizenship and promised them equal protection under the law.  Blacks voted, won elected office, and served on juries.  However, 20 years post the ratification of the Constitution of the United States, African Americans in the South would return to white rule and lose all the rights and freedoms gain with the implementation of Jim Crow.

What More Must We Do?

What more must we do to be considered human beings and equal?

As African Americans continue to fight for the basic freedoms outlined in the Constitution through Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Movement, it is amazing and exhausting to learn and see all that African Americans have given to a country that has hated and loathed them from its inception.  The following 8 individuals have contributed to the greater good of American and made life better and easier day-to-day: 

  • In 1892 Sarah Boone invented the ironing board. 
  • Mary Van Brittan Brown invented the home security system in 1966. 
  • We owe traffic control to Garret Morgan who in 1923 invented the three-light traffic light. 
  • The concept of refrigerated trucks was a gift from the mind of Frederick McKinley Jones in 1940. 
  • Climbing stairs became optional with the invention of the lift, but it was the invention of automatic elevator doors in 1887 by Alexander Miles that made the ride up or down safer. 
  • If karaoke is your thing, then you need to show gratitude towards James E. West.  Mr. West invented the electret microphone in 1964. 
  • Monochrome monitors are ancient history thanks to the invention of the color IBM PC Monitor co-invented by Mark Dean in 1980.  As we head into March Madness, and you may or may not have a team to cheer for just imagine if that hi-definition monitor were not there.  “The horror of it!”

What More Must We Do?

What more must we do to be considered human beings and equal?

2020 began with the murder of Breonna Taylor and ended with a seismic shift of conscious due to the murder of George Floyd.  Sadly, the list did not start with Breonna nor will it end with George. 

In 2020, National Public Radio produced this list of all the African Americans who have died over the last decade:

  • Eric Garner
  • John Crawford III
  • Michael Brown
  • Ezell Ford
  • Dante Parker
  • Michelle Cusseaux
  • Laquan McDonald
  • George Mann
  • Tanisha Anderson
  • Akai Gurley
  • Tamir Rice
  • Rumain Brisbon
  • Jerame Reid
  • Matthew Ajibade
  • Frank Smart
  • Natasha McKenna
  • Tony Robinson
  • Anthony Hill
  • Mya Hall
  • Phillip White
  • Eric Harris
  • Walter Scott
  • William Chapman II
  • Alexia Christian
  • Brendon Glenn
  • Victor Manuel LaRosa
  • Jonathan Sanders
  • Freddie Gray
  • Joseph Mann
  • Salvado Ellswood
  • Sandra Bland
  • Albert Joseph Davis
  • Darrius Stewart
  • Billy Ray Davis
  • Samuel Dubose
  • Michael Sabbie
  • Brian Kieth Day
  • Christian Taylor
  • Troy Robinson
  • Asshams Pharoah Manley
  • Felix Kumi
  • Keith Harrison McLeod
  • Junior Prosper
  • Lamontez Jones
  • Paterson Brown
  • Dominic Hutchinson
  • Anthony Ashford
  • Alonzo Smith
  • Tyree Crawford
  • India Kager
  • La’Vante Bigges
  • Michael Lee Marshall
  • Jamar Clark
  • Richard Perkins
  • Nathaniel Harris Pickett
  • Benni Lee Tignor
  • Miguel Espinal
  • Michael Noel
  • Kevin Matthews
  • Bettie Jones
  • Quintonio Legrier
  • Keith Childress Jr.
  • Janet Wilson
  • Randy Nelson
  • Antronie Scott
  • Wendell Celestine
  • David Joseph
  • Calin Roquemore
  • Dyzhawn Perkins
  • Christopher Davis
  • Marco Loud
  • Peter Gaines
  • Torrey Robinson
  • Darius Robinson
  • Kevin Hicks
  • Mary Truxillo
  • DeMarcus Semer
  • Willie Tillman
  • Terrill Thomas
  • Sylville Smith
  • Alton Sterling
  • Philando Castile
  • Terence Crutcher
  • Paul O’Neal
  • Alteria Woods
  • Jordan Edwards
  • Aaron Bailey
  • Ronell Foster
  • Stephon Clark
  • Antwon Rose II
  • Botham Jean
  • Pamela Turner
  • Dominique Clayton
  • Atatiana Jefferson
  • Christopher Whitfield
  • Christopher McCorvey
  • Eric Reason
  • Michael Lorenzo Dean
  • Breonna Taylor
  • George Floyd

However, I can only ask and attempt to not assume of what more must we do

What more must we do to be considered human beings and equal? 

Sources

BlackPast. (2021, Mar). African American history timeline. Retrieved Mar 15, 2021, from https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history-timeline/

Constitutional Rights Foundation. (2021). A brief history of Jim Crow. Retrieved Mar 15, 2021, from Constitutional Rights Foundation: https://www.crf-usa.org/black-history-month/a-brief-history-of-jim-crow

History.com Editors. (2021, Feb 10). Black history milestones: Timeline. Retrieved Mar 15, 2021, from https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/black-history-milestones

Morgan, T. (2021, Feb 16). 8 Black inventors who made daily life easier. Retrieved Mar 15, 2021, from History.com: https://www.history.com/news/8-black-inventors-african-american?li_source=LI&li_medium=m2m-rcw-history

NPR. (2020, May 31). A decade of watching black people die. Retrieved Mar 15, 2021, from NPR: https://www.npr.org/2020/05/29/865261916/a-decade-of-watching-black-people-die

PBS Online. (1998). Africans in America web site: Lucy Terry Prince. Retrieved Mar 15, 2021, from https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part2/2p15.html