black history month displays in schools and churches always talk about mlk, rosa parks, sojourner truth, madame c.j. walker, george washington carver, malcolm x, harriet tubman, shirley chisholm and–now–barack obama. sometimes they’ll have benjamin banneker or marian anderson.
great. fine. but these displays are pitiful and often feature some random assortment of kente cloth and a shekere or something. it’s tired.
but what about prince hall? what about peter salem? what about colonel tye?
what about seneca village? what about margaret garner?
why aren’t black children being told stories about john henry, brer rabbit and aunt nancy?
what about sankofa sigils brought over by african ironworkers that are now a mainstay in the gates of most u.s. federal/grand buildings and homes? what about the history of all-black towns and their state today? what about the significance of zora neale hurston and her research into black magico-religious folklore in the southern u.s., jamaica and haiti?
what about joseph boulogne le chevalier de saint-george? and florence price. the first black woman composer to have her work performed by a major symphony orchestra of any kind? listen to her mississippi suite. what about the arranged works of moses hogan, undine smith-moore and margaret bonds and their unique place in the development of american classical music?
shit. what about black classical singers that aren’t marian anderson or leontyne price (great as they were/are)–like george shirley, william warfield, felicia weathers, reri grist, mattiwilda dobbs, isola jones, sissieretta jones, eric owens, roland hayes, robert mcferrin, harolyn blackwell, simon estes, elizabeth greenfield-taylor, maria ewing, todd duncan, shirley verrett, jessye norman, kathleen battle, grace bumbry, angela brown, florence quivar, chauncey northern, marquita lister?
i know we black folks here on tumblr have access to info about these ppl at the drop of a hat but i often forget that we’re, by and large, a minority for how information is disseminated in our communities. i swear by next year i’m gonna have to start hitting the ground running and doing some sort of educational outreach thru music ‘cause this shit is DIRE.
and the list of ppl that are overlooked/not researched enough is HUGE.
We will be highlighting Joseph Boulongue le Chevalier de Saint-George on @getthrawnin 🙂 Stay tuned.