Charles Winfrey

FLINT, MI — An old Sanskrit saying asks the questions: “What happened to the good people of Sumer?” The traveler asked the old man. “What happened to them, for ancient History says they were Black?” “Well,” the old man said to the traveler, “they lost their history, so they died!”

By death, I’m sure the old man didn’t mean mortal death. I’m quite sure he was referring to spiritual death, cultural death, the death of identity, and moreover, a race of people that had gotten lost in the shuffle. In this day and age, with all of our cries about gentrification, and whatever that means to each person that uses it, I think we owe it to ourselves, our children and our grandchildren not to allow ourselves, our culture, our identity, our spirituality to be lost in the shuffle.

The poets waxed, “out of nothing, comes nothing.” Throughout the history of this country, OUR History has become a Black abyss. Nothing emerges out of a void. So when we see esteem issues and self-concept issues leading to acts of aggression in our community, the idea of nothingness slaps us in the face. In recent times, we have been slapped often enough to want to do something about it. Sociologist have declared that “history is the ego of a community.” Judging by certain conditions in our community, we could use a little ego boosting.

It has often been said that if we don’t know ourselves, someone else will define US for US. That has been the 2,000-pound elephant in the room since time immemorial. That notion defies self-determination, it limits liberation from oppression and the oppressor, and it exorcises any inkling of empowerment. So, in short, if we don’t define who we are, someone else will do it for us. There is a long, devastating trail of someone else doing it for us.

That is why my board of directors and I decided to go heavy with McCree Theatre’s Black History series this Season. We need to use our history as motivation to avoid its pitfalls and to rekindle its many contributions. We need to know from whence we came to better chart a course for the future. Our first installment in the theatre’s Black History Series happens this Saturday, November 18 at 2:00 p.m. with the documentary, “Out of Darkness,” with a discussion following. Donation is $3.00, however no one will be denied this knowledge. Admission is free for Season Ticket holders.

“Out of Darkness” examines the untold history of African people, the African cultural contribution to the nations of the world, and the events that have contributed to the condition of African people today. Out of Darkness will explore the Nubian/Kushitic origins of Nile Valley Civilization, contact between Africa and the Americas since the times of antiquity, as well as the influence of the Moors in Europe leading to Europe’s intellectual Renaissance. In addition, the film will analyze the history of modern day racism, the concept of “white supremacy,” the impact of Hip Hop as a social movement, and the idea of nationhood. Out of Darkness is narrated by Professor Kaba Kamene and co-stars Dr. Umar Johnson, Dr. Claud Anderson, Tim Wise, Professor James Small, Dr. Joy DeGruy, Anthony Browder, Sabir Bey, Atlantis Browder, and Taj Tarik Bey. Call (810) 787-2200 for information.