This slightly edited July 21, 2023 commentary was recorded on prisonradio.org.
And now we see, perhaps for the first time in modern days, states like Florida waging war against Black history by passing laws against what teachers can teach, and, perhaps more importantly, what they cannot.
In the land that brags about First Amendment laws of free speech, teachers are threatened to be silent about any Black history after 1875, or the time of Reconstruction. It’s as if, for Black people, history stopped at Reconstruction and nothing happened in their lives.
To add more insult to injury, these same lawmakers have argued that slavery was maybe good for Black people. It is not enough to observe that legislators make damn poor historians, but it also reveals their titanic stupidity. For hidden history has a way of seeping through like a break in a dike until it unleashes a flood.
For it reveals what white supremacy fears most: the twentieth century’s history of Black resistance to white terrorism, that very force which overturned Reconstruction. Their solution: to lie to their own children. To outlaw history is a grave thing indeed.
Frantz Fanon, who lived his last day supporting the Algerian anti-colonial revolution, condemns the colonialists for assaulting Algerian history. In his classic work, “The Wretched of the Earth,” he wrote, “colonialism is not satisfied with snaring the people in the net, or of draining their colonized brain of any form or substance with a kind of perverted logic. It turns its attention to the past of the colonized and distorts it, disfigures it, and destroys it.”
That colonial policy, conducted against the colonized people of Algeria a half-century ago, is being employed against Black people in America today. We need freedom schools, liberation schools, as occurred during the 1960s, to teach the truth to children today.
With love, not fear, this is Mumia Abu-Jamal.