The fourth example put forth by Dr.Ferszt, calls on us as Americans to make pilgrimages to the sacrosanct sites where African-American history was made in order for us to truly learn and understand exactly what happened so that we can take responsibility for the atrocities of the past and understand the circumstances that have created our current situation. Such sights mentioned in the article included “. . .the National Civil Rights Monument in Memphis, Tennessee, where Dr. King was assassinated in 1968. . . ” “. . . the MLK National Historic Site in Atlanta. . . ” “. . . the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Smithsonian, in Washington DC. . . ” and “. . . the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State University, in Big Rapids, Michigan.”(Ferszt par.10).
In addition to the sites mentioned by Dr. Ferszt, people seeking to educate themselves should visit some of the following national African-American historic landmarks: the Montgomery Greyhound Bus Station where the Freedom Riders were attacked by a mob on May 20, 1961 bringing the Civil Rights movement into sharp focus, Little Rock High School where the first confrontation on integration following Brown v. Board occurred, the Frederick Douglass house where the abolitionist spent the last thirteen years of his life, Fort Mose in St.Augustine Florida which is the site of the first free African settlement in what is now the US, the Royall House & Slave Quarters in Medford, Massachusetts, which was the home of the 18th century’s largest slave holding family turned museum, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, the Tuskegee Airmen National Historical Museum in Detroit, Michigan, the Whitney Plantation in Wallace, Louisiana and many, many others.
Making the effort to visit these locations is a form of education in the sense that people generally have a hard time consciously grasping the concept of the past because they don’t have a tangible or visceral connection to it. When you go to a location that has a palpable connection to the past, it facilitates an emphatic and deeper understanding – putting yourself in the shoes of those who experienced it before you, if you will. When you visit these locations you will literally be standing where black history was made; you’ll see the remnants of slavery’s legacy and its continued impacts through the centuries while likely being guided by African-Americans who are well versed in their history and professionally trained to share it. Such a past would be hard to ignore, especially when the gruesome details meet you face to face.
While I must concede that it is impossible to eliminate the evils of prejudice and racism from the hearts of every human; you can still try to change the minds of as many people as possible and part of that is done through unlearning the hate you’ve been taught. Knowledge will always overcome ignorance and that is why teaching this generation that racism affects all individuals is so important. We have to understand the conflicts between our ancestors and their subjugation in order to move forward and reconcile as a larger and more truly united society. However, if we don’t actively endeavor to make such a change and neglect creating such teaching moments, we will only create the opportunity for ignorance to establish a foothold and allow the resurgence of legislation that would create inequity and oppress minorities once more.
Ferszt, Elizabeh. “Why Racism is Everybody’s problem.” WordPress.20 August 2017. https://elizabethferszt.wordpress.com/2017/08/20/why-racism-is-everybodys-problem/
Greenwood, Heather Davis. “13 Destinations for African American History and Culture.” National Geographic. n.d. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/top-10/10-destinations-to-visit-for-african-american-history-and-culture/
“National African American Historic Landmarks by State.” Black Past. 2019. https://www.blackpast.org/special-features/national-african-american-historic-landmarks-state/