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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

February 2016

 February 2016


Let us take a lesson from the Mardi Gras Indians in New Orleans.  They spend an entire year creating new suits for Carnival Time.  We should spend twelve months in research, debating, action and writing in order to have something important to say when we engage the themes announced by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History for Black History Month.  "Hallowed Grounds: Sites of African American Memories" is the theme for 2016.  The best site for memory is the mind.

Elder minds might remember The Institute of the Black World was once located at 87 Chestnut Street, S. W., Atlanta, Georgia 30314.  In January 1983, Vincent Harding sent out "IBW Thirteenth Anniversary Update and Fund Appeal" along with an unforgettable quotation from Lerone Bennett's The Challenge of Blackness:

"….we believe in the community of the black dead and the black living and the black unborn.  We believe that that community has a prior claim on our time and our talents and our resources, and that we must respond when it calls."

Elder minds continue to share Bennett's beliefs  in greater and lesser degrees.  Times have changed. Let us ask minds that are twenty and younger if Bennett's words still have mad juice, even if we don't know what mad juice is. Let us be still and wait for silence or a hip hop word of four letters or an answer in Twitter syllables.  Times have changed, but the need to cultivate minds has remained constant.

In 2016, elderly farmers can plant old seeds from Vincent Harding's The Other American Revolution (1981) in the soil of Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow (2010):

"At the edge of history, how shall we move? Do we continue to trail behind the most revolutionary insights that our struggle has already achieved; do we turn away from the radical directions that Malcolm, Martin, and Fannie Lou had already approached in the 1960s?  Or do we stand with them, move with them, move beyond them, move on for them and for ourselves and our children to remake this nation?" (231)

The seeds might produce talking plants that will care to say:

Teach the unborn what law is and law is not as citizens, with or without benefit of uniform, kill young minds contained in young bodies.  Teach the unborn that they are expected to excel in mathematics and STEM.  Teach the unborn to be conversant with how global economies function inside and outside the United States of America.  Teach the unborn that the arts and the humanities are not useless; they are limited.  Teach the unborn that ACTUALITY dominates REALITY.  Teach the unborn that natural law does not baptize, ordain, and canonize STUPIDITY and that WISDOM is a terrible thing to waste.

It is not beneath the dignity of elder minds to do a bit of sharecropping.

In another part of the upper forty, the talking plants will repeat words from Harding that will upset the minds of the black living.  He asserted "that just as many of the energies of the middle-class black freedom movement leadership have now been absorbed into the middle level structure of the American nation, so, too, the phenomenon that we called Black Studies  ---and many of its similarly middle-class proponents ---has been absorbed into the structures , ethos, and aspirations of the American university system" and  " that Black Studies was absorbed (with a few important partial exceptions) for many of the same reasons that we experienced in the larger area of national struggle.  Essentially, it happened because the Black Studies movement failed to carry to their logical, radical ends many of the challenges to the assumptions, ideology, and structures of American higher education, failed to continue to press the critical issue of the relationship between black people inside the universities and those who will never make it" (227).

In February 2016, the elder minds will be silent and listen for sounds from the young and middle-aged minds inside and outside of the Trilateral Commission, the  Association for the Study of African American Life and History, the  United Negro College Fund, the BK Nation, the various #Whatever Matters phenomena, the IMF and the World Bank,   the National Council of Black Studies, the CDC and the NSF, the College Language Association, the Urban League , the United Nations and the NAACP.  Should the elder minds hear nothing more than white noise, they will continue serene conversations in the community of the black dead.

Jerry W. Ward, Jr.

January 26, 2016

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