Sunday, January 12, 2020

Getting Ready for Black History Month: A Little Girl's Dream

The following story was sent to me by a former classmate of mine from high school. I thought it a creative way to remind us all that Black History Month is approaching, February 1-29. Like most children's stories, there's a message for all of us as well. This is a Guest Contribution.

A STORY FOR BLACK HISTORY MONTH
by Diane Williams Cunningham

Please close your eyes and open your mind to a school girl kneeling down to pray at bedtime.

“Almighty God, thank you for this day in my 9-year-old life. Forgive me for anything I did, or thought wrong. Thank you for my family, friends and my teachers, too. God, I’m the only black person in my history class, and I’m sad that no black people who look like me get mentioned for achieving anything, but were only used in slavery to pick cotton. Could you please answer me, Lord, as to what else they did, so me and my people can feel part of history? You put us in this color skin and You teach us that our lives do matter. In Jesus Christ’s name, amen. Goodnight, Lord.”

I fell asleep and in my dream the Lord appeared as a tall man wearing a green tee-shirt with bronze-colored arms. I could not recognize His face, but he took me on a history journey. In my dream, morning came fast.

As I awoke and touched the lamp next to my bed I found a name written on a tag--Lewis Latimer: black inventor, 1848-1928, light bulb carbon filament. He was the draftsman for the patent Alexander Graham Bell was awarded.

Thomas Elkins
I rushed to use the bathroom and here I found another tag--Thomas Elkins, black inventor, 1872. The commode toilet. It had an easy chair, washstand, table/mirror and bookshelf all in one dresser unit.

Much to my surprise everything I needed for my hair was lying on the sink; shampoo, conditioner, healing formula and straightening comb. The tag read--Born Sarah Breedlove; married name--Madam C.J. Walker--the first self-made female millionaire, black inventor, 1867-1919.

Thank you, Madam C J. You knew us girls needed help for our hair.

As I ran down the stairs and opened the refrigerator another tag stared at me--T. Elkins again, 1874, refrigerator apparatus. He used metallic coils that chilled as coolant liquid cycled thru them. No more ice needed to keep food preserved and cold.

Well, now I needed a sandwich to go with my glass of cold milk, so I grabbed the peanut butter. Oh, to my surprise, yet another tag: George Washington Carver, first version of peanut butter 1860-1943, botanist, chemist, nicknamed the plant doctor. He is accredited for over 300 uses for peanuts, soybeans, pecans and sweet potatoes.

George Washington Carver by F.B. Johnston
Library of Congress
George W. Carver was educated at Iowa State University 1894-1896. He invented crop rotation. He made improvements to peanuts and many other things such as: adhesives, axle grease, bleach, buttermilk, chili sauce, fuel briquettes, ink, instant coffee, linoleum, mayonnaise, meat tenderizer, metal polish, paper, wood filler, gasoline, washing powder, plastic pavement, shaving cream, shoe polish, synthetic rubber, hand lotion, face lotion, talcum powder, wood stain and so much more!

Dr. Carver was asked in a letter from Booker T. Washington to come help him at Tuskegee University where they could not pay him the salary he was earning, nor give him a luxury place to live. He felt so honored that he adopted Booker’s middle name, Washington.

He said, “It’s not the style of clothes one wears, neither the kind of automobile one drives, nor the amount of money one has in the bank that counts. These mean nothing. It is simple service that measures success.”

Whoa, I thought, go my people!

Mailbox invented by Philip B. Downing (1857-1954)
I’m on my way to catch the school bus now, and passed a mailbox tagged--Black inventor, Philip B. Downing 1891. I’m smiling and excited, too. Then the bus stopped at a traffic light--tagged black inventor 1877, Garrett Morgan.

History class just couldn’t come fast enough. I’m going to tell them all about our black achievements. Lord, just let me out of this dream. The man in the green tee shirt said, “It’s Black History month every day. Go on and tell them how important All my people are to me. Wake up now, my child, and go tell them.”

Copyright Diane Williams Cunningham
* * * *

"I love to think of nature as unlimited broadcasting stations, through which God speaks to us every day, every hour and every moment of our lives, if we will only tune in and remain so."
--George Washington Carver, letter to H.W. Pelt

Related Links
Against All Odds: The Rags to Riches Story of Sarah Breedlove Walker
Inventions By Thomas Elkins @ My Black History
Inventor, Entrepreneur & Publisher Garrett A. Morgan
Inventor and Engineer Lewis Howard Latimer
100 Great Books by African American Women  

EdNote: If you are a children's book publisher or know someone in that field, I believe this little story could easily be expanded and become a wonderful teaching tool. 

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