Whatever happened to James Blake? He is probably the most famous bus driver ever.
Blake was the Montgomery driver who told a row of black passengers: "Y'all better make it light on yourselves and let me have those seats." Rosa Parks was one of those passengers. She made her stand and kept her seat. The rest, as they say, is history.
Well, black history anyway. We know how African-Americans boycotted city transit for thirteen months until the segregationists caved in. We know how the boycott launched the career of a previously unheard-of preacher called Martin Luther King Jr. and made Parks an icon. In schools, bookstores and on TV there is an awful lot of talk about them in February. But nary a word about Mr. Blake.
There is no month when we get to talk about Blake; no opportunity to learn the fates of J.W. Milam and Roy Bryant, who murdered Emmett Till; no time set aside to keep track of Victoria Price and Ruby Bates, whose false accusations of rape against the Scottsboro Boys sent five innocent young black men to jail.
Wouldn't everyone--particularly white people--benefit from becoming better acquainted with these histories? What we need, in short, is a White History Month.
Now, Paul will probably say that this is an example of Nadir focusing only on the evil that white folks do. That's not true at all. Gary Younge's article for The Nation advocates a more open and honest telling of history. We should stop teaching mythology and start teaching the truth.White Americans must learn to reconcile that the United States was founded on genocide and slavery just as Paul insists Blacks must come to grips with our African ancestors selling us into bondage. To obtain any real benefit from the study of the past, we must study what really happened - not just the good. We must hold the truth up to the light, understanding that it isn't always pretty, but knowing that if we turn our faces from what really happened, we lose valuable insight into what made us who we are.