By Leslye Joy Allen Historian, Educator, Theatre and Jazz Advocate & Consultant, Ph.D. Candidate
Copyright © 2014 by Leslye Joy Allen. All Rights Reserved.
Today I speak the names of PROFESSIONAL BLACK HISTORIANS (and I do not include amateur “chroniclers of facts” today, this February 28th). This day is for those individuals who stand, teach, and write only after they have performed extensive study and research.
This day is for those women and men who sit, anywhere from thirty to forty hours a week, wrapped in sweaters in those cold archives going over bits and pieces of paper that contain information until they begin to see a particular pattern or story to that information. Then they raise the “why” and the “how” questions about that information and they begin to piece together a story. Then they develop an analysis because history is not and never has been the regurgitation of names and dates and events. It is not a chronicle of events. History is the analysis of why and how things happen AND if there is no argument, it is not history! (Thanks for that one, Dr. Glenn T. Eskew. Okay, so Eskew is not Black, but he is one of the good ones who recognize the seriousness with which we all must advance and promote our profession.)
So on this day, February 28, 2014, the last day of so-called Black History Month (as if every day is not a part of Black History), I salute my classmates, colleagues, and former professors who work like slaves and dogs for very little money. There are days when you—and you alone—have been the only reason I can get up in the morning and keep moving.
I urge all of you, my colleagues, to remember your worth. If people need your stories and your opinions and your analyses, then those people can actually do something revolutionary and actually respect your worth and pay you like the professionals you are. Yet, if they do not want to pay you or acknowledge you, then they can take their lazy a***** to the dozens of libraries and repositories that you have visited. They can devote the same countless, and thankless months and years of research, research that you have perpetually performed as a matter of professional necessity, routine and courtesy. They can then experience how much they like doing years of your work without so much as a dollar or a “Thank You.” Do not settle my friends. Àṣé, and keep moving.