16.08.2011 00:52


London Riots 2011

As per when does everyone of us have a conscious choice of who we want to be, what we want to do and which type of life we want to lead? And if and when we are finally facing such choices, from where can we make them? There are facts, with which we are born and which cannot be changed, such as our race and our gender.

At the time of our birth, we cannot influence the nationality, the country, the place or the social and economic environment into which we are born - although we can do this at a later stage. And while we are children, our ability to make choices of our own is crucially restricted by age, inexperience and potential to fend for ourselves.

Moreover, at any age, external circumstances can seriously impact on our so-called freedom of choice to take our life into a different direction from the one of our childhood and adolescence. The ties of family, friends, religions, traditions, habits and economic contexts are not so easy to ignore, especially if they have formed perhaps the only network of support in a world, otherwise perceived as hostile.

To chose a life that is different from the one we are used to and that might estrange us from the only support structures we know – good or bad - requires courage, mental and emotional strength, determination and frequently sacrifice. What it can bring is often unknown and uncertain. And, of course, for some the choices are easier than for others.

I do not think there is a better example of someone, who made that choice at a time, when he had to fight against every imaginable obstacle – racial, economic, social, intellectual and academic – in late ninetheenth and early twentieth century America than Carter Godwin Woodson (1875-1950), the second African American to receive a PhD from Harvard University in 1912, Founder of the Black History Month in 1926 and one of the 100 Greatest Black Americans in history.

The AACDD 2011 Guide is dedicated to this truly unique visionary man in the history of the Black Diaspora and his groundbreaking achievements at a time and under conditions few diaspora Africans in the Western World today can even imagine.

Especially in view of the recent events in London and other parts of the United Kingdom, Carter G. Woodson still stands out as a man, who made the choice of a peaceful path trying to change the perceptions of those whom he considered responsible for the discrimination, oppression and demeaning of the Black man not only in America by studying and disseminating the great achievements of African cultures as the cradle of mankind throughout human history.

Karin-Beate Phillips
London, August 2011

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