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An Open Letter to All Americans,

A Testimony to History: Pass It On…

While growing up in Memphis and attending its public schools, history was one of my least liked subjects. From my youthful perspective, all that was important was the present and maybe the future, but certainly not the past. How wrong I was! As I matured, I discovered that history is the road map; it unlocks the secrets of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Those that know their history can enjoy the wonder, greatness, and the blessings of life, where those who do not are doomed to repeat the pain and exploitation that life has awaiting the unprepared and uninformed.

For example, most could never imagine the brilliance and majesty of African civilizations and the inventions, accomplishments, societal developments, and advancements that are documented in African history because it has intentionally been omitted from our history lessons. The African culture and experience was rich in agriculture, science, engineering, art, music, astrology, and medicine. It was an advanced society and served as a forerunner to societies in all parts of the world, but that information has rarely been shared. Everyone should read and those who are already knowledgeable should share their experience and provide a testimony of historic African societies… tell the story and pass it on.

Most American historians would rather begin their discussion with African-American history, which began over 400 years ago; although, per documented world history, the earliest finds of modern man come from Africa and date to nearly 200,000 years ago. Therefore, let’s not omit 98% of history to fast forward to the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria, captained by Christopher Columbus, as history is taught in our public schools. Each of us should teach our children the full history of Africa, from the beginning, with its civilized societies which promoted family, architecture, culture, and succession. Each should be taught the character traits that were enjoyed by Africans before their humanity was exploited and brutalized by violent members of other societies and forced into slavery, only to rise again.

Let us respect and challenge our bright young minds and encourage them by telling the whole story and passing it on for all to understand the true worth of each human being. For history has taught us that “civil rights” is synonymous with “human rights”. Let us not be afraid or confused about telling the story and passing it on. Each person reading this open letter has a story to tell. Commit right now to telling your story.

As adults, we are all ambassadors and elder statesmen of our society. It is the responsibility of each of us to tell the story and pass it on… to provide guidance, wisdom, and knowledge to our youth from our own history, knowledge, and experience; let us not fall short of our responsibilities. Once, we as African-Americans understand the whole story, we become better equipped to undertake our true role in society; we are not bottom dwellers but descendants of Kings!

Charles E. Carpenter, Esquire
Chairman, April 4th Foundation

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