Fun & Easy Ways to Learn History: Attend Historical Re-enactments!

Fun & Easy Ways to Learn History: Attend Historical Re-enactments!

Just imagine, we’re talking about history as literature, history as music. This is radical stuff here but it is real and authentic and, dare I say, inspirational too.

Fun & Easy Ways to Learn History: Visit a Museum!

Fun & Easy Ways to Learn History: Visit a Museum!

I found myself transfixed in the art museum, surrounded by elegant and stylish portraits of African Americans in the 1920s!

Fun & Easy Ways to Learn History: Visit Historic Sites!

Fun & Easy Ways to Learn History: Visit Historic Sites!

Battlefields, cemeteries, museums, historic homes like the Frederick Douglass, great cathedrals and churches, monuments and statues, and old towns to name can all bring history to life.

Fun & Easy Ways to Learn History: Listen to your elders!

Fun & Easy Ways to Learn History: Listen to your elders!

Learning from our elders is a tradition that is deeply rooted in African culture and oral traditions.

Fun & Easy Ways to Learn History: Watch Great Movies!

Fun & Easy Ways to Learn History: Watch Great Movies!

Other movies brought painful stories to life but also inspired us to overcome our own challenges and hardships.

Fun & Easy Ways to Learn History!

Fun & Easy Ways to Learn History!

History doesn’t always have been told only from a textbook, an encyclopedia or some other fact-filled book. It could, and I believe should, be told as a story about people. History should be literature.

What was a citizens’ council? You'll see why it's important!

Over the years, some people have questioned why Rememberinghistory.com does what it does: teach and honor African American history. We teach about people, events and problems that—sadly—schools fail to teach and standard history books—again, sadly--fail to include.

Our mission at rememberinghistory.com is to keep history alive and to keep learning from history.  And we believe that history, truthfully told, includes the good, the bad and the ugly. It includes the triumphant, the catastrophic, and the cowardly.  It includes the happy, the sad and the disillusioned.  It includes the peacemaker, the evildoer and the indolent. History includes the whole range of the human experience and emotion.  We want to remember this. And we want to learn from it.

So, I return to my original question:

What was a citizens’ council?

People aged 55 and over might remember citizens’ councils. Younger people might not be familiar with the term.

Was it a form of local government like a city council?

Was it a form of “neighborhood watch”?

Those are great guesses but they’re wrong. The “neighborhood watch” answer comes closer but it’s still not accurate. The name "citizens' council" is misleading.

This is the reason that we must remember history.

A citizens’ council was a group or associated network of white supremacists formed in Mississippi and later spread throughout the southern states. Formed in 1954, the citizens’ councils were comprised of the county’s business leaders, law enforcement officers, local doctors and prominent civic and religious leaders.  They worked collectively to stop racial integration in schools and public facilities and to oppose Black voter registration efforts. They were notorious for using severe intimidation methods, distributing propaganda and supporting violence against Black citizens and civil rights activists.

Citizens’ Councils (later known as White Citizens’ Councils) were the forebears to the Council of Conservative Citizens (CofCC), which were formed in 1988 in Atlanta. The Council of Conservative Citizens is also a white supremacist organization that supports white nationalist and ultra-conservative and paleo-conservative causes.  The group is composed of high level state and federal government officials, Supreme Court justices and prominent business leaders. It opposes multiculturalism (including interracial marriage), immigration, globalism, affirmative action and racial quotas and federalism. 

While the CofCC does not engage in violence, it’s known for promoting “the agenda of the Ku Klux Klan and the demeanor of the Rotary Club.” Open intimidation is used like firing Black employees, “calling in” mortgages, and denying loans and business credit to African Americans or others involved in civil rights work. The group members also use their positions to influence legislation and laws as well as control the economic rights of minorities in America.

Why is it important to know about citizens’ councils and the other racist groups? 

 

Aren’t they just a terrible relic from the past? 

 

No.

Recent events indicate that racism and white supremacy are not relegated to past centuries. They are practiced here and now.  

Examples:

  • Police violence against African Americans—and the failure to punish the officers involved

  • Increased gentrification causing displacement of African American homes and businesses

  • Increased numbers of hate groups throughout the country

  • Marches and violence by white supremacists and fascist groups

  • Attacks, threats and intimidation of civil rights workers and protesters

  • Failure to treat threats and violence against people of color as domestic terrorism

  • Restrictive new immigration laws that exclude and punish people of color.

  • 1,500 Confederate symbols and monuments on public land.

Racism continues to be part of the American modern experience.

White supremacy remains in the American society.

Citizens’ councils no longer formally exist. But the Council of Conservative Citizens continues to operate every day.  In 1995, Dylann Roof who murdered 9 African Americans in a South Carolina church was actually inspired by the rhetoric on the CofCC’s website! “Segregation schools” that were created by citizens’ councils in southern states for whites still exist. Today, these schools accept a limited number of non-white students but their mission remains the same: to educate white children separate from non-white children. (Separate but equal is inherently unequal.")

We all must learn history! It is not a group of stories about people, places and events from the past.

History is happening about today’s people, places and events.  And history is being created every day.

How can YOU make history today? How can you fight racism and work to build a society based on equality and justice?

Here are steps that you can take to get involved.

You see, history IS still important!

The United State of African Americans

The United State of African Americans

"The struggle” doesn’t even need to be defined for us. In fact, I can’t define it but I definitely know it when I see it. (Unfortunately, I’m seeing a lot of “the struggle” these days.)