Published On February 23, 2012
Even though Black History Month’s relevance is debated by some Americans, the fact that the history is something to be acknowledged and honored is indisputable. Morgan Freeman says that Black History is American History, and therefore should not be considered for one month. In similar token, many rappers throw in Black History facts on a regular basis. The most popular rap historians are Rakim, KRS1, Nas, Lupe, Talib Kweli and Mos Def. But to shake it up a bit, we’re going to let the the new school get some teaching credentials this time.
Here are the Top 7 Black History Facts, as told by Kendrick Lamar. Also, peep a few lessons by famous guest lecturers at the end!
PROFESSOR KENDRICK LAMAR
While millions know the legacy of Bobby Seale as co-founder of the Black Panther Party with Huey P. Newton, many are unaware of his life after his 4-year-sentence and disappearance from the national eye. Professor Lamar did just that— that’s right— the legendary Bobby Seale leveled into life as a chef! After releasing his cookbook, “Bar-b-que’n with Bobby,” he also did a cook show with his wife, Leslie, accompanied by the music of Tyrone Hill from the musical supergroup of Sun Ra’s Arkestra. But Seale, still as activist and advocate for the Panthers’ past Free Breakfast for Children program, incorporated uncanny elements to his show, including historical facts and events, recipes and ingredients, as well as his “DECLARATION: BARBEQUE BILL OF
RIGHTS”. Who could resist that?
Very subtly, Professor Lamar teaches us something that many to this day have yet to be taught (especially in those awful public school books!): that the original Egyptians were Black.
In his ode to Black revolutionaries, the line serves as a double entendre. The first message most get is that he’s telling kids to do amazing things; create an unforgettable history of their own. But underneath it all, it’s also a reference to the fact that he’s encouraging his audience to unwind from the matron of our new world. Rewind the times further back than slavery, and realize what you’re truly capable of. Your ancestors were not born slaves, so get off the ship (the belief that you’re only as good as what the news tells you), and do what it is you’re born to do— be great and change the world!
Compton, which Professor Lamar expresses is belonging only to the strongest who can survive, became a target by the COINTELPRO in 1956 under the instruction of the FBI Director, J. Edgar Hoover. They were able to stifle the improvements in African-American neighborhoods by disbanding the influential Black Panthers; aka framing and murdering the main leaders.
He continues his lesson on the misdoings of the government by referencing a previous lesson taught by mentor Professor Kanye West. The most important fact: President Reagan ordered his government to supply lower-income neighborhoods with crack/cocaine and guns. While that has been disputed as rumor to some critics, the government actually admitted to it, as documented in the Associated Press article published on April 17, 1986 titled: “U.S. Concedes Contras Linked to Drugs, But Denies Leadership Involved”.
Also: Reading is Fundamental!
Professor Lamar speaks on a commonality in the times of slavery that was the cause of much of the “colorism” battle we see amongst some African-Americans today. Slaves who worked in the field were said to have been put through a more gruesome time: having to work day-and-night tirelessly with little food in beaten, run-down clothing; pregnant women even continued up until and directly after birth of their child; most of them were belonging to broken families, separated by the auction block, and if any of them were not working up to standards, they would be brutally punished.
But, it’s unfair to believe slaves in the field went through worse times than those in-house, who were subjected to a very different pain. Another factor that came into play for the light-skinned house slaves was rape. Many women on the inside were raped by their slavemasters and bore their children; hence the light-skin…. Some were allowed to keep them, some were not. Many of the men were forced to accept this of their wives, as well as assist in monitoring their counterparts on the field. While this also caused for jealousy, it also contributed to a break from the two differing struggles. But clearly, all were affected horrible.
It was no easy road for anyone.
Professor Lamar teaches an important lesson here: the reason why so many African-American youth choose to floss instead of save. After giving his lecture on the history of slavery, he wants people to understand that the present will always be a reflection of the past. And in this case, having fought for everyday things—liberties such as freedom, food, water, and clothing— left a disdain for forthcoming decades to seek the greater things in life. Hence, why hip-hop has become the most materialistic genre in the commercial world.
Professor Lamar throws in an unpopular athletic reference. That’s not Michael Jordan there, he introduces you to Michael Johnson. Johnson is the only runner to have defended his Olympic title in the 400meter, as it’s rare for runners to win twice in a row. Now a retired American sprinter, he still holds the World and Olympic record for fastest 400meter and 4 x 400meter relay, and is the only Olympic contestant to have won the 200meter and Indoor 400meter races in the same year. He’s tied in history with Carl Lewis with an accumulated 8 gold medals for most medals won by a runner in history. Johnson is considered one of the greatest long sprinters in the history of track and field, worldwide.
Patrick Ewing, known as one of the 50 greatest basketball players of all time, was known for his bank shot. A bank shot in basketball is when a shot is scored with use of the backboard as a deflecting tool, directing the basketball into the hoop. The Hall-of-Famer is recognized for his bank shot as his signature style, and proved him to become the 10th NBA player in history to record over 22,000 points and 10,000 rebounds in 1999.
We were kings and queens, never porch monkeys
There was empires in Africa called Kush
Timbuktu, where every race came to get books
To learn from black teachers who taught Greeks and Romans
-Professor Nasir Jones, “I Can”
A young nigga got it bad cause I’m brown
And not the other color so police think
They have the authority to kill a minority
Fuck that shit, cause I ain’t the one
For a punk motherfucker with a badge and a gun
To be beating on, and throwing in jail
-NWA, Professor Ice Cube, “Fuck the Police”
Cause it’s all about money, ain’t a damn thing funny
You got to have a con in this land of milk and honey
-Professors Grand Master Flash & The Furious 5,“The Message”
I said, Elvis Presley ain’t got no soul (huh)
Chuck Berry is rock and roll (damn right)
You may dig on the Rolling Stones
But they ain’t come up with that style on they own (uh-uh)
-Professor Mos Def/Yasiin Bey, “Rock-N-Roll”
Pay no mind party like it’s 1999
But when it comes down to ground beef like Palestine
Say your rhymes, let’s see if that get you out your bind
Now I’m a get the mozzarella like a Rockafeller
Still be in the church of Lalibela, singing hymns a cappella
-Professor Lauryn Hill, “Final Hour”
And there’s plenty more where that came from. Including one of RG’s favorite upcoming professors, Asaad. Asaad has a special “New Black History Month” project coming to you on the last day of the month slated in homage to J.Dilla & Carter G. Woodson. So stay tuned to his blog for updates!
What have all these professors taught us today? Pay attention to your fellow rappers ladies and gentlemen, sometimes they’re actually trying to teach you something!