The memorial was captivating to the eyes and the soul as I gazed at the thousands of shoe strings, the pictures of the many children killed during the Holocaust, the child’s coat hanging and the one pair of high top shoes on display at this unnamed consecration camp. The memorial read, “In Memory Of The 1.5 Million Children Who Perished During The Holocaust. We Will Not Forget.” I immediately concluded that this well kept middle school that appeared to be 99 percent black “now” was at one time a middle to upper class school populated by a Jewish Community.
I am here with my granddaughter as she practice at this middle school several times a week. I watch as the black kids run back and forth to the restrooms and this nice size memorial, glassed incased, appears totally invisible to them. I wonder how many of the children know what the “Holocaust” was? How many Jews were killed during this dark and evil period of man’s history on earth? Two scriptures came to my mind. “My people are destroyed for the lack of knowledge”: Hosea 4:6 and …”these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shall teach them diligently unto thy children, and shall talk of them when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” Deuteronomy 6:6-7
After a few minutes I return to my senses and remember that many Black Children know very little about their past. Not knowing your past can have a devastating effect on your present as well as your future. Have they (blacks children) every heard of Nat. Turner, Sojourner Truth or Harriet Tubman? Did they know that their fore parents didn’t land on Plymouth Rock, but Plymouth Rock landed on them? Have they been told how the sharks followed the slaves ships from Africa to the Americas as many slaves jump to their death to avoid slavery, reportedly the number in the million?. Do they not know that America is a land of immigrants who came to America for a change, while “we” came in chains. Have they ever heard of Emit Till or the thousands of Black American who died of their illness because they could not make it to a “black hospital, like the one that was at Mound Bayou, MS.? Many have read and heard of Martin Luther King and his “I Have A Dream” speech, but have they every read his Letter from Birmingham Jail? Many young blacks may know Martin, but have they heard of Marcus Garvey, Megar Evers or Malcom X ? How about Fredrick Douglas, who he was and what he accomplish after someone broke the law and taught him how to read? I am almost certain that they have never read his “What the Fourth of July Means To Me” speech.
In today’s world of the IPhone, the Smart Phone, the I Pad and the other high tech gadgets that our black children can not survive one day without, there appears to be a problem with information over load with very little knowledge or “real” learning going on either at the home or the schools.. The right to an education, the right to vote and to right to pursue life, liberty and happiness are ideals that our children take for granted as if those rights always existed. We have created a narcisstic society that is Facebook oriented and the only viable family is their Facebook family. The middle class has basically vanished, good jobs with benefits and pension have disappeared. Struggling parents pay more for childcare today than many parents paid for a college education for their child years ago. A car note is equivalent to a house note in the past and our youth learn too soon about working the many hours at a fast food place and earning very little money. And the beat goes on.
The salesman gave us our receipt after purchasing two new tires. He has taken noticed of our East St. Louis address and responds,” I remember meeting President Johnson (Actually Vice-President) in 1960 when he came to visit in East St. Louis.” He went on to explain how he could not have been more than 5 or 6 years of age and how this event had stayed with him over the years. “That was before all the factories and jobs left East St. Louis.” he said. Back in 1960 and before, the now financially strapped city of East St. Louis was then known as an All-American City and at one time boast of a population of more than 80,000 citizens until the white flight occurred and the political system built upon cronyism and corruption was passed on to the blacks. I explained that most of the factories were located “outside” of the city’s limit by design so the factories could avoid paying taxes to the city. Knowing one’s past, their present and their future are inter twined, especially when history is being recorded and revealed. If Blacks Lives Matter, then somehow, someway, there must be a memorial to “us” in the midst of a national election where others want to turn back the hands of time to the 1950’s or before. It is truly a different story when the rabbit got the gun.