Black Genuis is clearly evident in “Black History”. Duke Ellington stated that the Negro is the creative voice of America, is the creative America. And it was a happy day in America when the first unhappy slave was landed on its shores and that in the shackles and unrest, Justice was awakened in the hearts of a courageous few and created in America the desire for a true democracy, freedom for all, the brotherhood of man, principles on which this country was founded.
Black brilliance, achievement and contributions are generally unknown, not only to whites in this country, but also unknown to far too many blacks. Outside of sports and entertainment, who would the average black child list as noted black Americans? The answer may be Dr. King, Past President Obama and maybe, Malcolm X. To the same question the average white child may add Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman and maybe Booker T. Washington or Dr. George Washington Carver. It is a sad fact that so few in this country know the “Real McCoy” of Black History, (Do you know the origin of the expression, “I want the Real McCoy?”)
The creativity that Duke Ellington spoke about is reflected in Matthew Henson, a self-educated black man, being the first person known to reach the North Pole. Edward Everett Just, a black biologist from South Carolina was the first scientist to unlock the secrets of cell function that included the discovery of the central part that the outer shell played in the development of the egg and the entire cell. Shattering then-accepted thinking that only the nucleus was important. Bolotov, a black astronomer in Russia was among the first to point out that mass and time in space interlock which ties into Einstein theory of relativity and what we know today as Riemann geometry. Norbert Rillieux discovered the method of producing the granulated sugar that we know today. Jan Matzeliger’s invention made it possible for shoes to be made entirely by machine. No other machine has been invented that can manipulate and shape a shoe to meet commercial requirements without using Matzeliger’s machine. Lewis Latimer made electric lighting practical by devising a longer-lasting filament for the light bulb. Father and son, Earl and Alan Shaw are pioneers in the laser technology and creator of unprecedented software systems. Dr. Louis Tompkins Wright, during World war I, came up with a new method for vaccinating American troops against Smallpox, in mid-1930 he developed a special brace for neck fractures that remain in use today, and was the first to conduct clinical trials of aureomycin, the forerunner of today’s leading antibiotics. Esteban was the first non-Native American to explore the region now known as Arizona and New Mexico, not Coronado. Imhotep was the real father of medicine, not Hippocrates. (Sir William Osler said that Imhotep was the first figure to stand out from the mist of antiquity about 2980 B. C. during the third Dynasty.) Dr. Daniel Hale Williams performed the first open heart surgery when the standard practice at the time was to pack the patient in ice, keep him/her quiet and calm and pray, Charles Drew showed the world how blood could be stored in what is now known as the “Blood Bank”. Dr. Patricia Bath perfected the use of lasers to remove cataracts. Slaves and sons of slaves from the early 1700s to the early 1900s dominated the sport of horse racing, (“Honest Ike” Murphy, Abe Hawkins, Willie Simms, Austin Curtis and Jimmy Winkfield were just some of more than a dozen other jockeys that had victories in all the major stakes during the period including the first Kentucky Derby,) There were blacks likes Pinto Jim and Bronco Jim Davis who were active participants in the birth of the rodeo. (Note that during cattle drives from the Southwest to the markets in Chicago, the planter or farmer riders became known as cattlemen and the black riders became known as “cow-boys.”)
Erasing the contributions and achievements of blacks from the history sometimes called the “Westward Movement” seemed to be a common practice and intentional. Contributions by blacks are so vast in every area that there is enough available information to fill a library. Are blacks patriotic? An experience a Tuskegee Airman had while in a German POW camp during World War II exemplifies blacks’ patriotism. A German guard asked the Tuskegee Airman, “You volunteer to fight for a country that lynched your people. Why?” Blacks are patriotic and have fought in all of this country’s wars. Blacks love the USA but dislike the racism and its failure to live up to its creed ”… that all men are created equal” and “…with liberty and justice for all”. This brief overview of some examples of black contributions, their genius and creativity and their love for America is only “a drop in the bucket” of “The Real McCoy”.