History helps us to understand who we are and how deep our roots have grown. It teaches us that we are a people with a glorious past that had its beginning in the dark corners of African civilizations centuries ago and spread to the lighted civilizations of today.
In the following pages you will discover some of the roots that have been planted and the beautiful flowers that have-been-produced on yesterday’s soil and left visible on the sands of time.
“Introduction”, Afro-American History, Hilda Wilson, 1960s
Hilda Wilson 1910-1975, Geraldine Wilson 1931-1988
Hilda worked with the Philadelphia chapter of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in 1964. Both Hilda and her daughter, Geraldine, were deeply moved by the efforts of those who fought this battle from the beginning of their lifetimes until the end. Perhaps as a little girl, Geraldine listened as her mother had the race talk with her daughter. Perhaps Geraldine listened to the words of her fierce Aunt Rachel as she attended events throughout Philadelphia with her mother. I will never know; however, what I do know is the shared interest and bond this mother and her daughter held towards black history and combating racial inequality. You see, Hilda moved to Mississippi to work with the Poor People’s Corporation, Head Start, and Friends of Children of Mississippi following her daughter’s participation in Freedom Summer. As Geraldine left to pursue her masters and Ph.D. at New York University, her mother filled her daughter’s large footprints. Hilda called Mississippi her home and died there in 1975.
As they worked with children in rural Mississippi, Hilda and Geraldine focused on black children gaining an awareness of their black history. Both women travelled to schools and churches lecturing on the importance of knowing one’s history. They even released publications for teachers and church leaders. These documents include Afro-American history calendars, short stories, a complication of black poetry, and resources for teachers to further educate black children on a black past. Despite Geraldine’s move to NYC, her mother kept her in the loop of the progress and setbacks she was experiencing in Jackson and sought her daughter’s advice multiple times. They dedicated their lives to various causes, yet this one, the education of black children, was a shared bond.
The two documents I included below are merely a few out of many written by or compiled by Hilda and Geraldine Wilson.
“Afro American History” by Hilda Wilson
“What Should I Tell My Children Who Are Black?” Compiled by Geraldine Wilson
When Geraldine was asked of the meaning behind black history, she stated,
…That is a difficult question to answer. It is also a question that requires a personal answer. Below is my answer. It is my personal opinion. I offer it to you. It can and possibly should be challenged. It is not the same answer I would have shared with you three years ago. It may not be the same answer I will give three years from now…
History is fact and opinion. The history of opinion can bind and enslave people. The history of fact can liberate people . History is not just what happened to them. History is also the effect on people of what happened. Knowing the history of Black people will help us answer those important questions: Who are we? Where did we come from? Where are we going? How do we get there?
It is not enough to know who the famous Black people are, whom we honor and respect. The existence of poor Black people is also a part of history. They have built this country, they have made money for others in this country. They remain poor for historical reasons we need to understand. The more need more than honor and respect. They need jobs, housing, and medical care. How they get these basic will be history. Knowing Black history means:
That we understand why our history was distorted and ignored.
That we learn who distorted our history and why.
That we discover who profited from distorting history and how they profited
That we know how long and how hard Black people have struggled against bondage.
That we know as surely as we know our name that the children of Africa are as old as man himself.
“What is Black History?”, Geraldine Wilson, 1968
No other words need to be written.
Until the next post,