Fill in the Gaps: The Black History we were never taught!
Amid everything that is occurring, it is time to talk about the major achievements made by Black people, that were left out of the history books, which benefit ALL of us.
Why is it important to learn about our own history?
Ignorance is not bliss, so it is important to cultivate a long-lasting sense of Black pride, especially in the younger Black diaspora.
We’ve all heard of the amazing likes of Harriet Tubman and Martin Luther King but many of us don’t recognise the names of Charles Drew, who revolutionised science by enhancing means of blood transfusions which meant he saved, and is still saving millions of lives, or Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the queer Black woman who invented Rock-n-Roll.
Our history is reduced to just struggles while any mention of our rich history is uncommon. Instead our history classes, the authors we learnt about, all the scientists that we were taught “revolutionised medicine” were all white as a result of the ethnocentric curriculum we see in the UK’s education system.
Other than slavery and the civil rights movement, how much Black history do you really know? Throughout time there has been a biased fixation on all the negative aspects of Black history - feeding into this idea that white history is the epitome of virtue - rather than any recognition of how the Black community shaped our modern world.
The people named positively changed the world we know today and deserve to be recognised as such.
So here is some black history I wish I learnt in school:
Meet Dr. Gladys West: Black Woman Pioneer of GPS Technology
Dr. Gladys West, a Black woman, was instrumental in creating the GPS that we use every day and almost cannot live without.
Meet Black Women Inventors - Dr. Valerie Thomas and Marie Van Brittan Brown
Dr. Valerie Thomas was a scientist and inventor whose contributions to NASA are still relevant to this day. Without her 3D imaging and movies simply wouldn’t exist.
Other inventions that wouldn’t exist without Black women include home security systems. As a result of the high crime rates in her neighbourhood, Marie Van Brittan Brown created a system to increase her levels of personal security that consequently influenced the modern home security system still in use today.
Meet Mary Mahoney - The First Licensed Black Nurse in the United States
1879 saw Mary Mahoney become the first licensed Black nurse in the U.S but, due to the prominent discrimination at the time she was unable to work in a hospital so instead worked as a private nurse. But she didn’t stop there, not only was Mahoney the co-founder of the National Association of Coloured Graduate Nurses (NACGN), but she later became one of the first women registered to vote in Boston.
Meet Mansa Musa - The Richest Person in History
Mansa Musa was the ruler of the prosperous Mali Empire in 1312 whose wealth was beyond comprehension. At the same time that European nations were struggling and lacking resources as a result of civil wars, the Mali Empire was flourishing due to its natural resources such as gold and salt. Musa was described as generous. He displayed this generosity while in Egypt as he gifted so much gold to the community it took 12 years for the Egyptian economy to recover.
This same 14th-century African emperor is still regarded as the richest person in history.
Meet Bessie Coleman - First Black Female Pilot
At a time of such gender and racial discrimination, Bessie Coleman became the first Black female pilot. She overcame the hardship of being denied to flying schools in the States by teaching herself French and moving to France to earn her license, she was a symbol of hope and bravery for millions of women of colour.