Today, being socially relevant is very important to many, if not most, Americans. There are those individuals who do not want to offend a person or group of persons by calling them something other than what is socially acceptable. Then again, there are those who could care less. But, if we take a look at the chronology of one group, we will see that the name re-classification was done out of a need or a movement to make a difference. That need to stand up and be noticed was met and accepted by a majority at that time. In 2012, history seems to have been re-written to show that nothing has changed except the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) and the United Negro College Fund.
Take a look at this order: Colored, Negro, Black, African-American In 1976, Black History Month was started, but as you can see there is much more than should be added to that month.
Let’s believe that the race started out as Colored. I don’t want to put parenthesis around the word simply because it is real – as many still would like to refer to themselves this way. As an example of how history has glossed over the integration and solemn progression of a race is in the way John Taylor has been overlooked in American History. John Taylor was not an African-American Gold medalist in the 1908 London Olympic Games, he was the first Colored Gold medalist ever. Craig Williams, the writer of the book, “The Olympian,” discovered this information. John Baxter Taylor, Jr. died of typhoid fever less than five months after returning home to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Though the term Negro had yet to be used, the New York Times in 1908 called Taylor the “World’s Greatest Negro Runner.” In 1920, colored was placed on the back-burner to the word Negro. The 1930s brought about Black. Now, here is the reasoning behind all of this: Until W.E.B. DuBois, writer, took the lead from Booker T. Washington, Black was the preferred term to be used. Although it was said that the term Negro was used by whites to marginalize coloreds, W.E.B. DuBois found the term “etymologically and phonetically” preferable to colored. And, even though DuBois was adamant about the term Negro, the New York Times Style Book changed Negro to the term Black in 1930. Jesse Owens, the winner of four Olympic Gold medals at the 1936 Hitler’s Berlin Games in Track and Field was Black. Obviously, Owens’ feat was accomplished long before runners like Carl Lewis and Usain Bolt were even conceived. And, though the latter two broke records along with a little controversy, it was Jesse Owens who did it with class and style. Even as the opportunity arose to disrespect Adolf Hitler, a man, a dictator who made it known to the world that his Aryan race was the superior race, Owens proved him wrong and won and accepted his Gold medals with class.
So, as the times changed there was a flip-flop in the use of terms. During the Civil Rights Movement of the late 1960s, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. reverted back to the term Negro as the term Black became offensive. But it was during the American Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960 that at least one notable leader, Malcolm X, sought to return to use of the term Black simply because Negro was associated with the history of slavery, discrimination that showed the people as even worse than second class citizens, and segregation. Then, in an effort to attain relevancy within Black America, Jesse Jackson, Presidential candidate in the 1984 election and Reverend, viewed as the only serious contender between himself and Shirley Chisholm (who also mounted a nationwide campaign for President), did successfully lead a push toward the term African-American in 1988 to define Blacks. This was done even though Black History Month was started in 1976; yet, that was not converted to African-American Month. While many members of each term-group would have settled on its own group being the main one referred to, Jackson’s African-American term was accepted by White America though there was never any exuberant momentum behind it. To date, the elderly and old Southerners still use the term colored.
Where is Jesse Jackson these days? It has been said, and probably even shown on television, that he was seen crying at the Inauguration of the 44th United States President of the United States of America, Barack Obama. Almost as troublesome as Jesse Jackson has been throughout his patronizing of Black America, his son, Jesse Jackson Jr. has become a similar situation to his Illinois congressional seat.
There was, in fact, a time when one could take a school course on Black Studies. Subsequently, since the admission of the term African-American, history has been re-written to refer to all Americans that fit into the three different groups as the latter term. While many would try and dispute that it doesn’t matter what they are called – whatever the term refers to the same group of “people…,” it’s about history. Because everything or everybody related to being Colored, or Negro, or Black, has been re-classified to African-American, the perception in history is that the African-American has never progressed at all. All thanks to the now scarce Jesse Jackson, history has been erased.