by Alton H. Maddox, Jr.
Last week, “Jeopardy,” a quiz show, had a question on Maulana Karenga, the Creator of Kwanzaa. The question on the show was about his date of birth. Suffice it to say that although Karenga gave blacks the Nguzo Saba, it was already practiced in Coweta County, GA before the world had ever heard of Karenga. I am seventy-one years of age. Karenga is seventy-five years of age.
“It takes a village to raise a child.” Black children were “community property.” Corporeal punishment was widely practiced. “The early bird got the worm.” At 7:00 a.m., every morning, everyone, who had not only gone to work, had to appear on the front porch or in the yard. This was an “inspection.” The community had a concern about anyone who was “MIA.” There were community assignments.
This encompassed “home training.” Parents would be judged by the conduct of their children. When an elder spotted a “rotten apple in the barrel,” he or she would say, “that boy or girl has no home training.” This was a reflection on the parents. Those parents had to devise an “exit strategy” forthwith.
Since my mother encompassed all of the principles of the Nguzo Saba, I will use her as an example. This is NIA. She taught school in Coweta County, GA when it was the responsibility of the community to build, finance and maintain all public school operations. Brothers made sacrifices for sisters to attend college.
Many parents, in the South, were sharecroppers. Private labor was in complete conflict with and “diametrically opposed” to public education. No child could be in two places at the same time. There were no “truant officers.” Farmers were the “special interest group.”
Like my mother, my father also shared all of the values of the Nguzo Saba. My sister and I could not expect a traditional Christmas. During the year, my father would make unknown loans to assist the poor. He was a “pastor.” The “promissory notes” always seemed to become due in December. My father reasoned that since we had “food, clothing and shelter,” the needy deserved our “community support” and “assistance.”
Eventually, I was able to accept his logic. On the other hand, this was a “tough pill” for my sister to swallow. It was difficult for her to see my mother, as a member of an individual family, having to deal with an “unexpected, public debt.” This meant that our Christmas lists would be substantially abbreviated. This was Ujima.
In every community, there was a school, a church and a Masonic Temple. There was no “prosperity ministry.” Teachers would live with “sharecroppers.” The sharecroppers would make the teachers’ clothing and supply their daily meals. The teachers would also visit the homes of the students. This would give the teachers insight into the living conditions of the students. This was Imani.
This “African Triangle” allowed for the ingathering of the people and their “first fruit.” The people would gather in this triangle with their “first crops.” This was an “agricultural celebration.” We made handmade gifts. Most persons had to travel by mule and wagon. Agricultural products were necessary for “survival.” There was profound “reverence” for the Creator.
In the 1940’s and in the 1950’s, in Coweta County, there were no “foster homes” and no “welfare clients.” The Black Church supported itself. This was “Kujichagulia.” All children were “community property.” If anyone in the community had a problem, everyone had a problem.
A real piece of work, Georgia’s 55th Governor Eugene Talmadge. His reported last word’s were “Keep the n****r Down.
This was not the “ripe” atmosphere for a “$ilver rites movement.” Gov. Eugene Talmadge was an ultra-segregationist and was more “toxic” and “volatile” than President-elect Donald Trump. No “titleholders” existed in the “Jim Crow South.” The principles of the Nguzo Saba were the “saving grace.”
Central (“You Can’t Judge A Book By Its Cover”) High School may have not been the best looking high school in the nation but it was “perfect” for us. The solidarity of the “Jim Crow” South still exists today in its alumni. We keep in contact almost monthly.
My favorite teacher was Frank Cheney. The Newnan Times Herald noted that he was a “philosopher.” He was teaching HELP (History Ethics Logic Philosophy). His favorite and most memorable saying: “It’s not the land but the man.” This is personhood.
“Jim Crow” schools had no libraries, indoor plumbing or janitors. Andrew Carnegie, the steel magnate, built a “public library” for whites “only” in Newnan. With earnings of only three-fifths of the salaries of white teachers, black teachers built and maintained the “Savannah Street Public Library” for black students and black veterans under the “G.I. Bill.” This was also Ujima.
Talmadge at a National Democratic Committee Session
As long as we do not suffer “amnesia,” of our past, and not forget our “plan for survival,” blacks can survive Mr. Trump and Attorney General-designate Jeff Sessions of Alabama. We survived Talmadge. His last words, on his death bed: “Keep the nigger down!” His pre-occupation with Negroes was more important than “cleaning his soul” for his final resting place.
A not-for-profit corporation, in Coweta County, has undertaken to preserve my “mother’s legacy” at Powell Chapel. It is an interesting schoolhouse. I have been unable to fulfill my responsibilities to the corporation because of “insider dealings” and “outside interference” in New York. This is “painful.” Blacks, in New York, must learn to separate the “wheat” from the “chaff and distinguish “friend” from “foe.”
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Too honest for the White Press and too black for much of today’s Black Press; bullet columnist Alton Maddox upsets the same people and status quo as he did as an uncompromising Defense Attorney. He is also a founding member of the Freedom Party. Please support the movement to Reinstate him. Contact him at c/o UAM P.O. BOX 35 BRONX, NY 10471.