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,, and PAST &

,, and PAST & PRESENT…MEET FUTURE African American History is at once African History, Black History, Virginia History, US History and World History. It cannot be fully celebrated within the month of February 121 or solely contained in books. It is a lifelong experience meant to be shared with others. Delving into our history creates a foundational understanding that enables us to make stronger connections between our current experiences and our future endeavors. Some behaviors and events in our lives can often be traced back to something or someone from our history and can provide valuable insight in the here and now. Black history contains beautiful and inspirational accounts of survival, significant accomplishments, extraordinary relationships, exceptional skills and amazing inventions. These feats are attributed to people who chose not to let anything or anyone keep them from living their life fully. These liberated individuals choose to move forward with a purpose. Yet part of what continues to be missing from their stories is how they achieved what many considered to be beyond reach. They achieved a level of freedom unknown to many of their counterparts. Freedom does not begin with laws. Freedom begins with a mindset. People who are free, think and act differently. ROAR! “OUR SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT CHALLENGE IS THEREFORE TO HELP ESTABLISH A SOCIAL ORDER IN WHICH THE FREEDOM OF THE INDIVIDUAL WILL TRULY MEAN THE FREEDOM OF THE INDIVIDUAL.” 122 NELSON MANDELA Sometimes there are a series of indirect factors that can impact a person’s ability to exercise freedom and to succeed. Starting back in 1619, Dutch sailors 123 traded enslaved Africans in Jamestown, VA, for food6F centuries of institutionalized inferiority began. Today, there are some African Americans who are still affected by how other people define their value. Because of that there are additional challenges to consider. Emerging research in epigenetics and slavery 124 suggests that the psychological and biological effects of trauma in the offspring of individuals who have lived THE TIGER & THE TORCH Page | 79

through such horrific experiences can be seen in the genes of their descendants. These studies seek to quantify the longitudinal impact on formerly enslaved persons and their bloodline. Early findings support the idea that some African Americans could be susceptible to what is called post-traumatic slave syndrome. Further study is needed in this field and is currently taking place. ROAR! “NOTHING IS MORE DIFFICULT THAN TRYING TO CORRECT HISTORY.” 125 MYLES MUNROE Another phenomenon that reflects the impact of negative experiences involves the behaviors associated with identity. There have been multiple names deemed to be politically correct (PC) for African Americans such as Negro, Colored, Black and Afro-American just to name a few. Each one represents a separate era in our history. In the late 70’s and early 80’s the PC term was Black 126, 127 and it continues to be used now. Why so many names? That question raises concerns inside and outside of the Black community and opens the floor for learning about what it means to be misunderstood and restricted in America. Even still, we have specific contributions to make to the world and should not allow what happened to us in the past interrupt our present or determine our future. ROAR! ZORA NEALE HURSTON SAID, “THERE ARE YEARS THAT ASK QUESTIONS AND YEARS THAT ANSWER.” 128 Over time we will make even greater progress if we deliberately choose to confidently and unapologetically stand together for what’s ours. We must be aware that what we do on the local level shapes our national history and vice versa. We should support the leaders who are answering our questions and solving problems. Better still, we should be leaders who answer questions and solve problems. There is often a single defining moment that permanently alters the trajectory of a major decision or course of action. It is that solitary instance when the light goes on and stays on. This becomes possible when our past and our present purposely converge. From there we can create a monumental future that is rich with history and full of relevance. One person’s story can give a voice to many others. THE TIGER & THE TORCH Page | 80