Charles F. Harris: He Popularized Black History

Ishmael Reed in Counterpunch:

One Sunday, Malcolm X was our guest. He strode into the studio, tall, handsome, bearing his famous ironic grin. The show’s producer, the late Jimmy Lyons, suggested that the topic be Black History. This was my opening. “Of course,” I said, “Mr. X would say that Black History is distorted.” “No,” he fired back. “I’d say that it was cotton patch history.”

That remark sat me down. In those days, the textbooks, if they covered Black History at all, showed Blacks alternately picking cotton and partying. According to these books, blacks, incapable of governing, inspired the Klan to save the South from Black incompetence. For the history of Reconstruction, we were informed not by W.E.B DuBois’s Black Reconstruction, but by “Gone With the Wind.” We were educated to fit into “the Anglo mainstream” and told that we were without a history. Nothing had changed since the Puritans dismissed the Indians they found in Massachusetts as lacking a history and religion, when their religion was more complex than that of the monotheistic invaders. But unlike the ethno nationalists of today, who feel that a superficial knowledge of the traditions of a few European countries makes you smart, at least Cotton Mather studied the Iroquois language.

More here. (Note: At least one post throughout the month of February will be devoted to Black History Month. The theme for 2022 is Black Health and Wellness)