The way MO-HAM-Id rolls off O’Connor’s lips is slightly aggravating, but I like the way Malcolm handles this panel. I can envision the TV viewers who were alarmed beyond all recognition when this originally aired in 1963.
Sometimes, while reporting, it seems necessary to have the forced cordiality that Malcolm has with the folks aiming for his dome in this clip.
Strong Black woman. Man, I have so many memories of grade school and Black History Month; the little posters taped to the classroom walls for a month, the book reports and the coating of sugar on the legacies of dozens of fighters for justice. It was all entrenched in a message that freedom is good, slavery and oppression: bad. All my grade school teachers were Italian, I think. Or Polish. Definitely white.
I wonder why whenever they taught us about Harriet Tubman none of them offered to us impressionable youngsters something to the effect: “This was a strong Black woman, guys.”
I’m not sure we understood it via the passages in our Houghton Mifflin textbooks, or the TV documentaries.
So, I offer you here, the strong Black Woman that was Harriet Tubman. This ancestor’s spirit continues to inspire the oppressed and she wasn’t only a voice for Black folks, but for women, period. Listen to Maya Angelou, in her authoritative baritone read about the woman who helped free slaves via the Underground Railroad with a bounty on her head.
Fugitive Slave, Rescuer of Slaves
Tubman was born into slavery in Maryland. In 1849, she fled to Philadelphia but returned to Maryland the next year to begin the first of many Underground Railroad trips to lead family and friends to freedom using caution, skill, and subterfuge. Some passengers she escorted to Canada. In the Civil War, Tubman was a spy and scout for the Union in the Sea Islands. In 1896, she spoke at the convention of the American National Woman Suffrage Association convention.
For the pop culture treatment of Tubman’s legacy, check these out:
Last year, The Atlantic´s Ta-Nehisi Coates gave a wonderful summation of why we need to recognize a Black History Month, and what´s wrong with the ways we´re brought up recognizing it. We reduce it to a bunch of pictures on class room walls and memorized passages. We need to look at our ancestors as humans not just as heroes.
As this February winds down, our first second Black History Month with a Black President, let´s not forget those who struggled before us. They would be proud of how much things have changed, and how many Black billionaires there are now.
Saul Williams and Trent Reznor, ¨Black History Month¨