I BELIEVE it's important for us to see the personalities that have contributed to the history of the African-American people and to understand their important role in shaping the movement of the African-American consciousness in the United States.
I would say we have to go back to the very early ones — perhaps Frederick Douglass would be the first one to begin with. Then perhaps W.E.B. Dubois and Booker T. Washington. Then on a kind of smaller stage, perhaps Carter G. Woodson and even Charlotte Hawkins Brown.
THESE WERE PEOPLE who would try to do something practical. People working with something that was available, something that was right there in their hands - like Charlotte Hawkins Brown's Boarding School for Girls, Booker T. Washington's institute, and the philosophy that grew out of his work.
I think we should see those personalities and how they have contributed, because they have not only influenced the shaping of the African-American mind, those personalities themselves were really creations of the African-American people. I think we need to recall such personalities to see just what the African-American freedom movement, what this history is all about.
IT'S NOT A STRUGGLE against the white man; it's not a struggle to find a new land - those are just incidents in the great history of the African-American people. It was a struggle for freedom; it was a struggle for dignity; it was a struggle for opportunity - opportunity to grow in America without illegal restraints on that growth. I think that this is the spirit we should be recalling of that great history.
By Imam W. Deen Mohammed, AM Journal 02/24/1984
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