Are we doing a disservice to the African American Community, and to the rest of America, by excluding those who put their life on the line in their opposition to slavery?
We also have many heroes that should be part of Black History for how will those of color ever know them, if we don’t mention them and what they did to pave the way for Black freedom.
I recently attended a celebration of Black History Month that honored Lt Calvin J. Spann. He was a World War II, Black Air Force, fighter pilot and a hero, who helped guarantee our freedom from the Axis Powers, when things didn’t look too good for us. He also put his life on the line every time he flew a combat mission over enemy territory. He told us of his desire to be a pilot from a young age and how he prepared himself through education and hard work. He studied math and science and did well enough to qualify for flight school. Under his guidance and that of his fellow Black fighter pilots, we never lost a bomber that they were escorting. That in itself is a remarkable achievement and worthy of the highest recognition. Even more remarkable is the fact that he flew 26 of these missions.
During the ceremony, I felt dismayed, and almost un American, for displayed was a Black Liberation flag, but no American flag. No pledge of allegiance was said in this public facility, but a Black National Anthem was sung. Do we adequately teach/celebrate the contributions of others to this just cause. One of the most courageous men to speak out in the Halls of Congress against slavery was Senator Charles Sumner. He spent three years recuperating after being viciously attacked by two Southern Legislators for a speech he made denouncing the evils of slavery.. He never completely recovered from the attack. John Adams and his son John Quincy Adams were two more who helped pave the way for fredom. John Quincy Adams while serving in Congress, represented the Amistad African slaves in the Supreme Court of the United States and argued that they should be set free. In Jersey City, and not far from where this celebration was held we have three cemeteries that hold the remains of Civil War Soldiers who fought, so that Blacks could be free. If we value what Lt. Spann did then we, both Black and White should work toward building a more inclusive community.
Thomas J. Bragen