Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction,
and be attentive, that you may gain insight,
2 for I give you good precepts;
do not forsake my teaching.
3 When I was a son with my father,
tender, the only one in the sight of my mother,
4 he taught me and said to me,
“Let your heart hold fast my words;
keep my commandments, and live.
5 Get wisdom; get insight;
do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.
We all have fathers who raised us, who imparted their wisdom, their habits, their approach to life onto us. We all have lived according to these values given to us by what should be our greatest influence.
But as we age and become literate we develop our intellectuals ancestors. They might share the same outlook as our fathers and reinforce and provide a source of inspiration and motivation and expand the purview of the morals handed down to you. From that foundation you build your personal outlook.
My intellectual father is the great Martin Delaney, regarded as the father of Black nationalism to many. From him I further understood the value of self determination & self preservation; building, preserving and supporting your own institutions; along with the value of of blacks starting and supporting our own businesses. So in honor of him, here are somethings of his and some stuff about him that I was reading today.
Here in Martin Delany’s Advice to Slaves he counters the bombardment of information from a society seeking to paint us as a caste of layabouts without distinction, culture or industry, in a speech which would be radical in any age. Even warning us a full century before Malcolm X classic warning against aligning to close with Liberal whites, Delany makes the case against their fore bearers.
“As I said before the Yankees are smart; there are good ones and bad ones. The good ones, if they are good they are very good, if they are bad, they are very bad. But the worst and most contemptible, and even worse than even your masters were, are those Yankees, who hired themselves as overseers. Believe not in these School teachers, Emissaries, Ministers, and agents, because they never tell you the truth, and I particularly warn you against those Cotton Agents, who come honey mouthed unto you, their only intent being to make profit by your inexperience.”
He also engaged in the rewriting tunes used in minstral shows to fit a more radical narrative. In this example he turns Stephan Foster’s Old Uncle Ned on its head.
Den lay down de shubble and de hoe
Hang up de fiddle and de bow:
No more hard work for poor old Ned
He’s gone whar de good darkeys go
Delany’s (superior) version:
Hang up the shovel and thee hoe-o-o-o!
I don’t care whether I work or no!
Old master’s gone to the slaveholders’ rest
—He’s gone where they all ought to go!
“Summer time and the living is good. Fish are jumping”, this line has always echoed in my head, I sing it randomly without provocation. I still do not know and don’t particularly care why. Today I was listening to Mahalia Jackson’s Summer Time/Motherless Child on repeat, tis the season and its a Beautiful* song. Enjoy it and until my next post I bid you good day.