A View From The Shadow: Telling Our Stories

Updated: August 28, 2016

By Professor Fred Whitted


NORTH CAROLINA — Sometimes God reminds us why He called us to do what He called us to do. While going through the latest edition of World Book Encyclopedia in search of background information on the relevance of HBCUs on the Black Wall Street (BWS) Communities.

When I made an effort to determine the distance between Tulsa Oklahoma where the BWS Community of Greenwood is located and Langston University. While the distance is 78.5 miles, I did not find that out in World Book.

This led me to take a look to see what other HBCUs were missing from World Book, the iconic source of information for more than a century. I had a total of five of the 21 books from the set out for use. So, what I did was go through each of them to see what HBCUs were profiled. Of all the HBCUs listed in the A, L, M, NO, and T, the only HBCU profiled was Tuskegee.

There was a blurb about Tuskegee that followed a slightly larger blurb about the Tuskegee Airmen. It was not lost on me that there was a piece on the facing page on Tina Turner that was longer than the Tuskegee profile.

This is why WE MUST TELL OUR OWN STORY. Throughout World Book, there are lists of the colleges and universities in each state. (Interestingly, Arkansas-Pine Bluff was omitted from their list.) There were profiles of the larger universities in each of the states.

hbcu_historicgradsTo be fair, I looked at some the larger and more famous HBCU that were listed in each states’ list. Tennessee State was not profiled. Morehouse was not profiled under M. Neither Norfolk State, North Carolina Central nor North Carolina A&T have profiled the N/O book.

On a good day, I could say that this omission occurred because Langston is a little off the beaten path. But, when I looked at the locations of all of the other institutions are located, I have to ask this question: does World Book care so little about HBCUs that they no longer deserve being listed in the body of their books?

How long before the total mention of HBCU are reduced to NOTHING???

Folks, let’s face the fact that no one is going to love more about HBCUs than we do. It is up to us to support our schools. Football season is upon us. Buy season tickets and go to a game. Support your alma mater and/or the closest HBCU to where you live. Stop buy gear for your kids from schools that do not admit them. Don’t buy gear from schools that would not admit you.

As I near the completion of books seven and eight of the LEGACY EDITIONS of the Black College Sports Encyclopedia (N.C. Central and N.C. A&T), I continue to be amazed by the quality of the alumni that these schools have produced, over the years, and recently.

There are also a number of former athletes who played long before they were receiving the fat checks as athletes who have gone on to become millionaires in the business arena. Pettis Norman (J.C. Smith), Willie Davis (Grambling) and Earl Monroe (Winston-Salem State) are a small sample of the great potential that has become a reality in the business world.

hbcu-graduation-500x300While the Greenwood section of Tulsa is but one of the BWS communities, there are others that had a direct connection to HBCUs: Sweet Auburn in Atlanta-The Atlanta University Center (Clark Atlanta-Morehouse-Morris Brown-Spelman); Hayti-Parrish Street, Durham (North Carolina Central); Jackson Ward-Richmond, VA (Virginia Union-Virginia State).

We at Black Heritage Review have committed to telling the story of each HBCU athletic program through the LEGACY EDITIONS of the Black College Sports Encyclopedia. We are also profiling HBCU alumni through the American Role Models Series. We are finishing the third and fourth books of that series.

From these we are telling our stories, and, we are supporting the building of the HBCU Heritage Museum and Hall of Fame. These books are necessary for the establishing the information needed to put the museum together. Eventually, these books will become the museum.
YES, we need a place that tells our story. We cannot expect World Book do any more than they are doing now.
It up to keep HBCUs on Front Street. WE MUST TELL OUR OWN STORY.
NOTE: For more information about the book series go to www.blackheritagereview.com.

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