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Wisdom from ancestral warriors

A. Peter Bailey | 5/3/2019, 6 a.m.
In 1619, 400 years ago, the first African captives were brought to what is now Virginia. Since that time, many ...

In 1619, 400 years ago, the first African captives were brought to what is now Virginia. Since that time, many of our courageous ancestral warriors — men and women — have fought against the physical and psychological terrorism inflicted by the proponents of white supremacy and racism. If we, as people of African descent, had paid more attention to and agreed upon the guidance and advice from our ancestors, we would most definitely be further ahead in the war for equal rights, equal justice and equal opportunity. Their directives include the following:

David Walker: “I pray that the Lord undeceive my ignorant brethren, and permit them to throw away pretensions, and seek after the substance of learning. I would crawl on my hands and knees through mud and mire, to the feet of a learned man, where I would sit and humbly supplicate him to instill into me that which neither devils nor tyrants could remove, only with my life — for coloured people to acquire learning in this country makes tyrants quake and tremble on their sandy foundations.”

Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune: “If our people are to fight their way out of bondage, we must arm them with the sword and the shield and the buckler of pride — belief in themselves and their possibilities, based upon sure knowledge of the achievements of the past. That knowledge and that pride we must give them if it breaks every back in the kingdom!”

Dr. Benjamin E. Mays: “I hope we will make it clear to ourselves and our children — that whether we believe in integration, separatism or nationalism, there is no substitute for a trained mind. For the future belongs, always has and always will belong, to the man who knows, and the man who has skills.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “Education without social action is a one-sided value because it has no true power potential. Social action without education is a weak expression of pure energy. Deeds uninformed by educated thought can take false directions. When we go into action and confront our adversaries, we must be as armed with knowledge as they are. Our policies should have the strength of deep analysis beneath them to be able to challenge the clever sophistries of our opponents.”

Malcolm X: “Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today … Just because you have colleges and universities doesn’t mean you have education. The colleges and universities in the American system are skillfully used to miseducate.”

Dr. Carter G. Woodson: “No systematic effort toward change has been possible, for, taught the same economics, history, philosophy, literature and religion which have established the present code of morals, the Negro’s mind has been brought under the control of his oppressor. The problem of holding the Negro down, therefore, is easily solved.

“When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his ‘proper place’ and will stay in it.”