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How to Carry On Tradition

Earlier this month, I visited the African American History and Culture Museum and it was an awesome experience. The experience was so amazing that it made me reflect not only on the great contributions African Americans made throughout the world but also extremely thankful to have a grandmother that taught Black history. As a matter fact, my grandmother's lessons on Black history built my confidence and made me extremely appreciative of all the strong creators, innovators, and determined African Americans that created the foundation for Black excellence. With this in mind, when we examining the lives of these pioneers it suggest they understood their willingness to protest, march, and fight for freedom was not only for them but for the advancement of those after them. In fact, their efforts are the guiding principles that have allowed us to excel beyond their wildest dreams. Given these points, that is why an entertainment mogul such as Jay Z shared that his success, “represents the seat where Rosa Park sat, where Malcolm X was shot, Martin Luther was popped.” To put it differently, their efforts are the reason that we have a moral obligation to continue the legacy of those who built our foundation of Black excellence.

Although this may be true, to often Black males seem to be in a never-ending battle to carry on the tradition of Black excellence. Often times, Black males are challenged to find a sense of belonging in America because they have experienced so many forms of discrimination reminding them that they are not welcomed in society. However, when you study Black history, you learn that every African American that has made a significant impact on society has had to overcome a barrier that was systematically placed to prevent their progress. In particular, Black males have experienced being falsely accused of crimes, denied access to education, employment, housing, land, and the basic necessities to survive in this world. In fact, W.E.B Dubois pointed out that the history of African Americans is a history of strife. Therefore, our success can only be established when we are willing to change the narrative.

One example of a person that changed his narrative is Ukawsaw Gronniosaw (better known as James Albert). He was a freed slave and the first to publish his autobiography in 1772. Gronniosaw discussed the struggle of being a Black man, trying to provide for not only himself but his family as well. He discussed being held captive, uneducated, and a victim to man’s sinful ways. For instance, Gronniosaw shared how for years he was unable to read and immediately thought, “that every body and every thing despised me because I was Black.” However, he was able to overcome his illiteracy because he was a man of faith. Gronniosaw believed in GOD and that every challenge and struggle was created to test his faith. In other words, he understood that progress is necessarily ugly.

In spite of Gronniosaw’s life being filled with up’s and down’s, he (like many others) left a legacy for us to follow that suggests we must be resilient no matter what obstacles we may encounter. Given these points, our challenge is to live a life that will influence others to follow. If we do this, we will do more than carry on a tradition of greatness but also demonstrate, motivate, and educate generations after us. In short, our goal must be to live every day to make Black history and carry on the tradition of Black excellence.

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