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Hari Jones Sets the Record Straight

Hari Jones, a leading authority on African American military service throughout U.S. history presented a lecture showing the incongruous nature of our own history. Jones is the curator and assistant director of the US African-American civil war memorial in DC.

Hari Jones

Jones began his presentation loudly exclaiming, “Me holla!” He explained one might assume he was using the English language improperly, or one could assume he was speaking Ebonics. That was not the case, but Jones was speaking Fulani, a group of people located in Africa. Jones translated the sentence he used, “‘Me’ means ‘I,’ and ‘holla’ means ‘speak.’ So when an elder shouted ‘me holla!’ me listened!”

Jones continued by conveying the delight he had to be in Carter G. Woodson’s Alma mater. He quoted from Woodson’s book, The Miseducation of the Negro: “Real education means to inspire people to live more abundantly. To learn to begin with life as they find it and make it better. However, the instruction so far given Negros in colleges and universities has worked to the contrary. In most cases, such graduates have merely increased the number of malcontents who offer no program for changing undesirable conditions about which they complain. One should rely on protest only when it is supported by constructive program.”

The people in this lecture were citizens whose protests were supported by constructive program. When Dr. Woodson established Black History week, he selected a week that included the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglas. Lincoln and Douglas were two Americans who helped their fellow citizens through a very difficult ordeal in order they might achieve the ideal.

The theme for Black History Month this year is “The quest for black citizenship in the Americas.” In the US, this quest is best described as an ordeal to achieve the ideal. The ordeal existed before the declaration of independence. There was no freedom for Africans and African descendants. However, a son of Africa was the first to fall in the name of liberty at the beginning of the American Revolution. It was a revolution that stated all were created of equal rights. Yet after our founding fathers wrote the Declaration of Independence, the struggle for true freedom for all citizens continued. For more than forty years, the eye yoke of Slavery shamed Liberty. No human should claim another as property.

In 1783, Male citizens gained the right to vote in Massachusetts such as Prince Hall, a civic leader and revolutionary war veteran. In a speech, Hall quoted the goals so clearly stated in the constitution, but added another part to the preamble. “We the people, in order to form a more perfect Union, must abolish slavery.”

The abolition leaders kept their ideas on the ideal. One of the leading citizens in securing the ideal was Fredrick Douglas. His ideal while in support for the ideal began when he was in captivity. Douglas eventually escaped and became a revered citizen. In a speech on July 4, Douglas stated, “What to the American slave is your fourth of July? What to the American Negro is your Fourth of July?” This shows not all Africans and Americans of African descent were enslaved. Douglas stated what it was to those in bondage, “It is a day that reveals to him more than any days of the year the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. Douglas spoke of the hypocrisy of depriving their fellow citizens their right to liberty. “[The constitution] is a glorious liberty document. Read its preamble and consider its purposes,” Douglas challenged his audience. He believed slavery could one day be abolished. In order to fulfill the goals stated in the preamble of the constitution, slavery had to be abolished.

A question and answer session followed Jones lecture. Charles Badger, moderator of the event, asked Jones to share with the audience information about the film “Glory.” The producers of the movie claimed their film was a true story, not based on true story. Jones related the gross discrepancies in the film, and told the truth about the story related within the film.

The following groups and organizations sponsored the event: Coalition for Community Building, the African/African-American Studies Department, the History Department, the Student Government Association, the Black Cultural Center, the Black Student Union, and the Berea College Republicans.

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