We vigorously set out to memorize facts about those who held a special place in Black History.By the time January rolled around, it was not only knowledge but the speed at which one could recall that Dr.
The round one “contestant,” like the first runner in a relay, was the person who would set the team up for victory. Me and every other bowler coveted that round one acknowledgement and worked desperately to earn it. North Tenneha Baptist Church had some of the brightest students at their church: Charles Champion (yes, that was his name, and he lived up to it) and Holly Jameson – both surefire bullets for the beginning and end of the bowl relay.For me and a special group of youth in North Tyler here in Texas, Black History Month began in September when the coordinator in charge of the “Black History Bowl” began to confirm availability to participate in the annual competition among neighboring churches.I would hover around Sister Dorothy Wheat, just happening to be looking for something around the piano when she was there, or just happening to go to the ladies room at the same time as she, making a slight scene to get noticed.I acted like this for a few years until she said, “Delley (as most in my family were called by this peculiar last name), you can be on the Black History Bowl team; I’ll tell you now, ‘fore you worry me to death the next two weeks.” For three months, I and about six other teens would meet weekly at St.Mary’s Baptist Church and, fueled by sugar cookies and crimson punch, we would take in the rich and complex history and stories of our ancestors.What’s to be understood more than anything is that these Bowls were about celebration.
The competition was only to get us kids all gussied up.
After all, the only prize any of us ever got was bragging rights based on points.
The competition was a celebration of the reward of succeeding out of struggle and triumph over adversity.
We learned everything about our brave and gifted ancestors in the context of joy and victory.
Today, as we celebrate Black History Month, we are lacking the luster of victory.
Today’s remembrances are all about the suffering and the struggle.