10 biggest lies about black history. Author/s: Lerone Jr. Bennett Issue: May, 2001

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Author/s: Lerone Jr. Bennett
Issue: May, 2001

Your country? How came it yours? Before the Pilgrims landed we were here. Here we have brought our three gifts and mingled them with yours: a gift of story and song ... in an ill-harmonized and unmelodious land; the gift of sweat and brawn to beat back the wilderness ... and lay the foundations of this vast economic empire two hundred years earlier than your weak hands could have done it; the third, a gift of the Spirit.

-- W.E.B. Du Bois

THEY came out of the sun, bringing with them the gift of the sun. Founders without heralds, benefactors without banners, they transformed the new land, creating the foundations of its wealth and giving it a new music and a new spirit.(*)

The forgotten founding fathers and mothers, the ancestors of contemporary Blacks, did all this in the face of obstacles and proscriptions that would have destroyed a lesser people. By all odds, they should have been destroyed, physically and spiritually, on the .slave ships and plantations. But they were so tough, these people, that nothing--neither slandered, nor segregation, nor discrimination--could destroy them. They came up from slavery,, up from segregation, up through fire, blood, pestilence and pain. And by some mystery no historian can truly fathom, they not only endured but prevailed, leaving behind imperishable testimony on the indomitable tenacity of the human spirit.

The story of their transplantation and transformation and survival is the story of one of the greatest flights of the human spirit in recorded history. But that story has been distorted and pushed into strange shapes by a massive propaganda campaign based on powerful myths and lies that hide Black people from themselves and their greatness. These lies inform almost all popular discussions on Black history. Propagated day in and day out by almost all media and passed on from generation to generation in the cultural bloodstream, they affect the dreaming, desiring and acting of both Black and White Americans. And although the myths were fostered originally as a means of control to discredit Blacks and to assuage the conscience of racists, they are repeated by some Blacks who have been negatively conditioned by the popular history taught in nurseries, movies, bars and too many classrooms. Among the most widely disseminated lies are the following:

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