As of yesterday, it’s now Black History Month, a time to reflect and celebrate the achievements of American blacks in this great nation. We must look to the past in order to inspire us towards a brighter future. Here’s what I focus on in this month, remembering those who went before me, enabling me to be who and where I am.
My first sense of pride comes from having two great parents, the stable black family. This is the strength of our community. Sadly it has been utterly decimated in the past 50 years since the infamous liberal progressive policy endeavor called “The Great Society.”
I remember growing up in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward and learning not just from my folks, but from all the ol’ folks who imparted their wisdom if you would listen. Sure, there were knuckleheads when I was growing up, but for the most part there was a sincere respect for authority. My greatest fear was simple: having the teacher call my folks, Buck and Snooks West. Man, I would clean all the blackboards and sweep all the classrooms just so that wouldn’t happen. And there at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School, Sister Judith wielded a mean paddle — and contrary to Dr. Spock, I grew up just fine.
This month, I’d love to see a special documentary that gives honor and remembrance to the two-parent black family. In years past, the black community was able to endure horrific trials and tribulations because of two things: family and faith.
Yep, another integral part of Black History Month for me is recalling the influence of the church. Growing up, my home church was Fort Street United Methodist Church on Boulevard Ave. The Number 6 bus stop for Georgia Avenue was right there in front of our church. Why was that important? Because it was the direct bus to Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. In the summer, if we were good kids and didn’t act up or fall asleep in church, we’d qualify for that allowance to head over and cheer on the Braves.
And when our church got a concession stand at the stadium, boy howdy, did we try to impress the concession stand committee so we could make the cut. I sang in the church youth choir…that was where you could meet girls traveling to youth choir concerts. And we wore our pants up on our waists. I still remember all my pastors: Reverends Grier, Moore, Stovall, and Ennis had tenures there. My mom sang in the choir – she was an awesome soprano.
Now Dad was never a real church-going man, but that didn’t mean you got to stay home. Sunday was always about waking up, doing chores, eating family breakfast — listening to Mom practice her songs — and off to Sunday school. Church was where you made your best friends, played church league basketball and baseball, went on summer trips, and for me, the last place I saw my parents. It was where I learned about God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit… which sustains me to this day in difficult times. I just pray more pastors in the black community realize the dangers of progressive secular humanism.
Lastly, this month, Black History Month, I reflect upon those who served, sacrificed, and committed themselves so that I could live in this great land and don the uniform of a Soldier. Crispus Attucks, Robert Smalls, the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, the 9th and 10th Cavalry “Buffalo Soldiers” — I remember the day when the Buffalo Soldier monument was dedicated at Ft. Leavenworth. I was a young Army captain that day, stationed tin Kansas. The 369th Infantry Regiment “Hell Fighters from Harlem,” the Tuskegee Airmen, the 761st Tank Destroyer Battalion, the Montford Point Marines, the 555th Parachute Regiment…all part of my history, my lineage as an American Soldier.
And it would not have been possible without Army Corporal Herman West Sr. and Marine Corps Lance Corporal Herman West Jr. A special lady, my mom, Elizabeth Thomas West, a true Woman of Sparta who raised me as a Soldier as she was a 25-year civil servant to the 6th US Marine Corps District. And that history, that legacy is passed on now to Army Major Herman Bernard West III.
Yes, that is our history as black men, four generations of American combat veterans. I wonder how many celebrations there will be this Black History Month honoring the men and women from Henry O. Flipper to General Hazel Johnson — what a lineage of honorable service to our Republic.
I pray this month isn’t hijacked by a bunch of Black Lives Matter nonsense. Instead it should be one where all American blacks reflect upon their lineage and who enabled them to be who they are.
I just want to give a final shout out to U.S. Representative Josiah T. Walls (R-Fla) 1873-1876 Member of the US Congress. Walls and West, two men who share a place in history. And perhaps one day I can meet Rep. Walls as I get the chance to be reunited with Buck and Snooks and all those who made it possible to have a month to celebrate honor, service, sacrifice, and commitment to these great United States of America.
Lift ev’ry voice and sing til earth and heaven rings, ring in the harmony of liberty….facing the rising sun of our new day begun, let us march on ‘til victory is won!
And folks, victory ain’t about being in bondage because of economic enslavement.