…I will be obsessed with learning, promoting & preserving Black History and Culture…
Never has this phrase resonated in my soul as it did with the recent commemoration activities of the East Saint Louis Race Maafa/Pogrom/Massacre. It comes from the OBS youth group’s creed that they created in 1989. The youth recite youth creed at all of their functions and we often talk about how the creed gets carried out in their daily lives.
I’ve been mesmerized by the stories of survivors like the Kennedy Family as told by brothers Kujlaliwa and Dhati. Their family had to piece together a make-shift raft to escape across the Mississippi River.
We still don’t know the whole story of the 1917 massacre but what we do now is that is over the last 100 years, it has rarely been taught in East St. Louis public school (or the Saint Louis Public Schools) and rarely spoken about within Black families.This is unacceptable. We must be obsessed with learning and preserving Black History.
OBS has been spreading the word as much as we can about this atrocity in our area. I believe that like the Dred Scott decision of 1857, what happened in East Saint Louis has contributed to the colonial nature of human relationships and power dynamics between the races in the region. It is an important historical backdrop that must be overstood when organizing for Black political and economic power.
For those unable to participate in the weekend of activities, we are sharing the gifts of others to bring it to you. Phillip Deitch captured most of the weekend in photos and Thomasina Clark has created a YouTube video of the march across the Eads Bridge. I also took photos at the Sunday event with the assistance of my amazing junior photographers, Tesfaji and Haile.