I actually planned to talk about entertainer extraordinaire, Cab Calloway, but a little thing like my low-key childhood shero got in the way.
I remembered the name of the first Black female writer, Ida B. Wells from my childhood. I decidedly did not remember that she was so much more than just a journalist! She was a teacher, an advocate, a fierce leader who refused to be content with the status quo. I think of women like Patrisse Cullors, Sara Parker Remond and others like them; women who at great personal cost have advocated for civil rights only to be misunderstood and vilified. You see, Harriet Tubman did not have a cheering fan club either.
Only when we look back in time, when we see our mistakes and inhumanity towards others, do we set those powerful women in their rightful place as civil rights leaders, as leaders for all of us, who push us toward the as yet elusive ‘liberty and justice for all’.
As I read more of Ida’s story, I thought about my books on Krause’s banned book list. Is that my cross? Will there be more indignities to bear? Will more people write that “there is a place in hell for people like me” because I try to ensure a more inclusive society in my small way?
I’m sure that Ida only did what was in her heart. She sought a fair and free society for people who looked like her. Now, 130 years on, her vision is still in danger, the stories of Ida and women like her, being erased. While that makes me sad, it also emboldens me. Although there are those who want to turn back the clock to a time when diverse stories were yet unknown, you can’t put the cat back in the bag. I’m heartened to know that
if Ida did it;
if Sara did it;
if Patrisse did it;
I can do it too. Teachers, we can do it too. #TeachTruth