History Told and a History Stole… By Mae Catherine Godhigh

Dear Readers,

Mae Catherine Godhigh

According to American history, we had no names unless given. We had no religion unless given. We had no intelligence unless given. We had no right to exist unless given. We had no history unless it was given.

Basically, when it comes to American history, I am amused and suspect of it. American history has always been negotiable. Like a two-dollar transaction gone sideways, our freedoms and voice can be bought, sold, compromised, or even taken away. Ironically, the victor or conqueror gets to write the story, whether it is true or not. Those who control the press decide to print, ignore, delete, or white-wash truth. During the last presidential election, the nation watched as lies or “alternative truths” were weaponized against American citizens.

After the Civil War, the two Americas, the North and the South, had to reconcile. So they came up with a deal that extended more than a palm branch to the South. The plan of Union General William T. Sherman to grant newly freed black people 40 acres and a mule was the first and most significant promise to be broken to Black people and was swiftly removed from the table to pacify the South.

To sweeten the pot, the North threw in reparations to the defeated South. These reparations consisted of monetary awards and land acquisitions.

Imagine this if you can, the same men who fought under the confederate flag, renounced their citizenship in the United States, were public enemies of the United States of America, launched a war upon the United States and killed men and women, both civilian and military, who were citizens of the United States. Later, they were handed the ultimate consolation prize of penning their southern version of American history. And we wonder what is seriously wrong with our nation today.

Shady at best is the election of our former President Rutherford B. Hayes. Scholars indicate an informal deal was struck to resolve the dispute: the Compromise of 1877, which awarded all 20 electoral votes to Hayes; in return for the Democrats conceding to Hayes’ election, the Republicans agreed to withdraw federal troops from the South, ending protection and human rights for millions of black Americans and brought the illusion of Reconstruction to an abrupt end. This former president is presently honored in our American history textbooks along with other slave-owning presidents.

The North won the war, but the South gradually won the textbook war. History books published in the decades after Reconstruction pushed the “Lost Cause Narrative.”

This erroneous narrative advocated a heroic view of the Confederacy, not only dominated in Southern classrooms but tiptoed into history books used by Northern teachers and students.

In the South, during the 1930s, the so-called “mint juleps” characterized their personal versions of Nathan Bedford Forrest, John Wilkes Booth and John Brown. It would not be long before those portrayals would become a national consensus. Even as the North began to publish its counter versions of American history, in many ways the presentation was only “cloaked change.”

The recasting of American history continues today as publishing companies continue to print different genres of history books to comply with the educational standards of various states. You might want to grab your highlighter. Today most of the states with statewide textbook adoption policies are still located in the South. The first thing every kid in the U.S. should be taught in history class is that America wasn’t discovered; it was invaded. Any deviation from this fact is an outright lie. Quote from Indigenous People.

Hidden Figures

The 1619 Project developed by Professor Nikole Hannah-Jones aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of the United States. Wiki

The next time you see a bottle of Jack Daniel’s Whiskey, you might want to thank a Black man by the name of Nathan “Nearest” Green for your spirits. Nathan taught Jack Daniel an ancient African process that filtered liquor through a charcoal mellowing system. This ancient African method is what gives Jack Daniels’s Whiskey its rich flavor, texture, and taste. Guess who got the credit and the millions?

The first University in the world was Sankore University in Timbuktu, capital of Mali. It was established in the 1100s C.E. (Twelfth Century). It predates Harvard University (the oldest University in the entire United States. I’ll digress and allow you to do the math. Harvard University dates back to 1636.

It is a well-established fact, Black Americans have been intentionally disregarded of our rightful place in American history. Oftentimes credit for inventions, patents, and contributions was given or stolen by white counterparts. America would not exist without the free labor of black people.

So as you focus on clearing your generational trauma, do not forget to claim your generational strengths. Your ancestors gave you more than just wounds.

In the meantime, I’ll wait for the National Truth and Reconciliation Day; then and only then can this nation move towards the healing it desperately needs.