Black History from the Source
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Politics and Activism

Black History from the Source

From someone who lived it.

Black History from the Source
Leah Hill Patrick

February marks the beginning of Black History Month. Most individuals forget that this month is a time of reminiscing and education. Black history shines a light on oppression, but also shows the progress people of color have gained throughout time. While I attended high school, I remember learning about all of the founding fathers and the presidents that managed the country. Not one was a brown face, until the year 2008 where President Barack Obama joined the ranks. The election caused an outbreak of celebration, but also aggravation between races.

I also learned in high school that black history was something to quickly brush over and was never thoroughly reiterated to the student body. Groups like the Black Panthers were seen as violent and radical. Leaders like Malcolm X received a bad rep because of the organization to which he stood by. I want everyone to learn about black history from the source. Roscoe Lawrence was born in 1956 and lived through Civil Rights Movement in the United States. I ask him personal questions as to how he grew up and the people who influenced his life. I will also ask him about the high school taught “radical” groups and the people of the movement.

Vanessa Lawrence-Fulton: As a young boy, how did you perceive the Civil Rights Movement? What were your emotions?

Roscoe Lawrence: I saw injustice. I felt that as an individual of color people made me feel as though I were less than they were. I knew I was equal to or even more than equal to them. Being in an entire white environment meant that I had to overcome certain communication situations. People did not understand where I came from. People did not see the disadvantages people of color had because we were not on an even playing field. My emotions were not really involved; my awareness was heightened. You had to deal with questions like how am I going to be accepted? How will people perceive me or look at me because of my skin tone?

Vanessa Lawrence-Fulton: How did your mother’s influence (A black woman who grew up in the South) affect you?

Roscoe Lawrence: She made me understand that in order to achieve in this world I am going to need education. She told me that I would need to be strong, proud, and to believe in myself.

Vanessa Lawrence-Fulton: What were common conversations between your friends regarding the movement?

Roscoe Lawrence: Same conversations we have today: how police brutalized individuals, how people do not respect individuals regarding the color of their skin, and how people of color were inferior. We talked about how we would want to walk into a place and be equal to someone else, but could not because of our skin. Regarding work, we realized we could not advance in our job status even though we excelled at our jobs, just because of the color of our skin.

Vanessa Lawrence-Fulton: How did you turn the oppression of everyday life into something more positive?

Roscoe Lawrence: Through education mostly. I knew that being a productive individual in society, I would be able to achieve my goals. I needed to have a productive job. Also, have conversations with people and talk to them about what is going on in society. You find that people have the same views and thoughts you do.

Vanessa Lawrence-Fulton: Who was the most influential black leader for you during the movement?

Roscoe Lawrence: Shirley Chisholm, she stressed education so black people could get involved within the system. She was a major advocate for education and getting black people educated. She instilled that education was the route to advance ourselves to obtain any career we wanted to pursue.

Vanessa Lawrence-Fulton: Malcolm X has been taught in high schools as a violent black leader, what are your thoughts?

Roscoe Lawrence: He was not a violent black leader at all. He was pro-black and felt that black people should do for themselves and not depend on any outside entities. He believed at one point in time, after he traveled from Mecca that it does not matter if your white or black, we are all the same.

Vanessa Lawrence-Fulton: The Black Panthers have been taught as a violent black group, what are your thoughts?

Roscoe Lawrence: They were not at all. They were originally a socialist group to help the black community help themselves. They utilized the amendment of the ability to bear arms as U.S. citizens non-violently.

Vanessa Lawrence-Fulton: Looking at today, even though you lived through oppression and racism, why did you decide to marry a white woman?

Roscoe Lawrence: My wife and I never looked at ourselves where ethnicity was the problem, we were close and worked in the same job. We have an open dialogue about racism and educate each other.

People like Roscoe Lawrence bring forth the great ideals we want to construct Black History Month on. Black history, taught in schools, has been conceived on oppression and racism. In reality, the history reflects the pain and oppression of the movement, and then turns those memories or feelings into something positive. Black history shows solidarity acts and anti-violent movements for the rights of African Americans. The movements of black rights today are not woven in hatred, but a union of pride within each other.

Roscoe Lawrence is my father and has instilled the same emotions he felt as he grew into me. He taught me how to present myself in any situation and to remain calm. He engraved the same principles of education in me, and I do my best to show him I am an educated mixed woman of color. I want to educate everyone on black history in the United States and I hope that they continue to educate those around them. Black history is just that, a collective act of the education of cultures. The education that was not given to us in high school and we had to wait to take an elective class in college to understand. I hope people of all backgrounds and cultures take the time to celebrate the month’s great values. It starts with the education of those around us to make a change in society today.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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