Commentary: Don’t let Beck, Barbour rewrite African Americans’ story
Leonard Pitts urges that blacks in America take a lesson from the Jews on combating historical revisionists, and those who would romanticize evil. Some might take umbrage at the comparison but I recommend you read the whole commentary here.
Israeli school kids, it turns out, often visit the death camp as a means of understanding the genocide that decimated their people. Learning this left me, not for the first time, impressed with the way Jews have institutionalized Holocaust education. A subject that was considered largely taboo into the 1970s has since become the object of manifold museums, memorials and oral histories.
As Maryla Korn, a survivor from Washington, D.C., once told the Washington Jewish Week newspaper, “Maybe by talking and telling our stories, we can restrain another little monster from coming up. How can you not talk?”
Her words stand in stark contrast to the responses I once received from two black women when I asked them to describe a lynching they witnessed in 1930.
“I try and put that behind me,” said Sarah E. Weaver-Pate. “I’d just rather forget that.”
“Why bring it up?” snapped Clara Jeffries. “It’s not helping anything. People don’t want to hear it.”
Every January we hear Martin Luther King’s great speech. Every February, school kids dress up as black inventors or social leaders. But there is in us — meaning the African-American community — a marked tendency to avoid the grit, gristle and grime of our history. The telling of those stories is neither institutionalized nor even particularly encouraged.
It is time for that to change.