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Black History Is American History… One Navy Officer’s Heroes

February brings us Valentine’s Day, President’s Day and Black History Month (BHM)!  Last year at this time, there was a big flap in Hollywood, because there were no “Black” actors or directors nominated for an academy award.

Several of my favorite actors and directors spoke out about this and refused to attend the Academy Awards Ceremony.  It’s really nice they can go, because I couldn’t afford it.

However, one of the biggest flaps came when Fox News Contributor Stacey Dash felt the comments made by high profile Black Hollywood Artists who refused to attend the Academy Awards were “Ludicrous.”  Having read the comments by Stacey Dash and re-watching the video interview, I have come to agree with Stacey concerning that issue.

She said, “We have to make up our minds; do we want to have segregation or integration?  If we don’t want to have segregation, then we need to get rid of channels like BET, BET Awards, and the Image Awards where you are only awarded if you are Black.”

However, the Internet and the “Twitter verse” lit up like Broadway condemning Stacey Dash for her “small brained blabbery.”  ( I think someone made up that word).  But, I believe Stacey also made some good points in that interview about Black History Month.  And, she was not the only Black Hollywood Star to speak out against BHM.

Morgan Freeman, in a 2005 interview with 60 Minutes, felt Black History Month is “ridiculous.”  Why?  Because, he felt “my history should not be relegated to a month.”  Black History is American History!

I want to address the issue of Black History Month.  When I was in the Navy, I was asked to perform several songs to honor our American History.  The person that asked said to me, “You know, we have Black History Month, Hispanic American Heritage Month, Native American Heritage Month, etc.  Why don’t we have a month to just honor the fact we are Americans?”

When I thought about her request, I agreed to perform at the special ceremony honoring just us plain old Americans.  That’s right just plain old Americans… not a hyphenated American, just a plain old American with a different skin color (tan or like a brown paper bag).

I would often get frustrated with the command surveys we had to fill out every year, because I often felt I would be singled out, because I was the only African-American officer in the Wardroom.  Therefore, in the box that indicated “RACE,” I would check “Other” and write Human!  It’s really tough to be anonymous when you are the only “pea in a pot of rice.”

When I was growing up, the first piece of American Black History I learned was about Crispus Attucks.  Now technically, we weren’t the United States of America yet, but he was considered the first casualty of the America Revolution when he was killed during the Boston Massacre.  His history is American History.

In 2014, BlackPast.Org provided us a list of 101 African-American firsts.  The list of names is numerous.  Even though these are African-American firsts, they are all a part of our American History.  Their history is American history, and their achievements were not confined to one month.

Maybe you have heard of Garrett Morgan.  If you haven’t, and you drive a car, his invention is something you encounter at many intersections today.  You see, Garrett Morgan invented the traffic light.  But he didn’t stop there; he also invented the gas mask and the zig-zag stitching attachment for manually operated sewing machines.

Have you ever heard of the phrase “the real McCoy?”  That expression has been associated with Elijah McCoy.  He was the inventor of the ‘oil drip cup’ patented in 1872.  It was used by railroad engineers who would frequently ask if their trains were outfitted with the real McCoy lubricating system.

I remember learning about George Washington Carver.  He was a botanist and an inventor.  Most of us can recall he came up with 105 uses for the peanut.  But, did you know his real passion was to come up with alternative crops to cotton in a land where cotton was king?  He also promoted the sweet potato.

Carver was also an environmentalist that had a real concern about how we were farming our land and destroying the natural environment in the process.  His contributions to the American experience did not only affect African-Americans; it affected all Americans.

He even had a US Navy Submarine named after him, the USS George Washington Carver, SSBN 656.  As a retired submarine officer, I am truly proud to know this great American was honored twice with a ship named after him.

READ MORE AT WOMEN’S VOICES MAGAZINE

Dr. Arthur D. Glover
DR. ARTHUR (Art) Glover is a retired US Navy Submarine Officer who currently resides in Silver Spring, MD. He holds an MPA Degree from Valdosta State University, an MS in Theology from Southern Christian University and Doctorate in Practical Theology from Master’s Graduate School of Divinity. He served his community as an Election Judge for 10 years and continues to serve his fellow veterans as 1st VP of the Montgomery County Chapter of the Military Officers Association and as Base Commander for the Capitol Base, United States Submarine Veterans.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Dr. Glover, thank you first of all for your service, black or white. I admire our military and will for as long as I am breathing. I don’t think of black vs. white, but see the need to point specifics out, such are Rosa Parks, and I hate that people were and are even treated in undignified ways. God bless George Washington Carver, and bless the submarines named after him and those who serve. Thank you for this great article.

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