"Those who have experienced Paris have advantage over those who have not. We are the ones who have glimpsed a little bit of heaven, down here on earth." - Deirdre Kelly

Monday, November 07, 2011

Smokin' Joe

Joe Frazier

"Life doesn't run away from nobody. Life runs at people." - Joe Frazier

I'm a proud Francophile Parisienne, but the deepest parts of my heart and soul belong to my beloved chosen profession - a historian of African American History. In both of today's classes, my students and I had a wonderful and poignant discussions about the Black experience.

In my first class (Cultural Heritage) our discussion was sparked by a student asking me why didn't enslaved African Americans revolt against those who enslaved them. There were a myriad of reasons why a full scale revolt did not happen. But I also made it clear that Antebellum enslaved and free African Americans did resist. I used passages from Frederick Douglass' autobiography and Deborah Gray White's seminal work Ar'n't I A Woman? as illustration(s) of the fact that, although we were enslaved, we did resist. Moreover, we survived and we flourished.

In my second class (American Studies) we discussed my first published 'history' book: I Am the Utterance of My Name. It chronicles the existence of the free and enslaved Black communities, traces the beginnings of the current Black community, and the site of origination for the Black Feminist Movement.

The point that I was trying to make, in both classes, is that the African American communities' foremothers and forefathers simultaneously encompassed and gave all African Americans hope, vision, determination, pride, and strength. They showed their community, their country, and the world, the best that African Americans had to offer and our limitless potential too - and they did so from every socio-range and occupation. And some of them were TITANS - like Joe Frazier. This post would be very long indeed if I related his full biography (Mr. Frazier's bio is here). Smokin' Joe was a member of the old guard. There are very few of them left and his passing signifies an era that is too quickly coming to an end.

Great warrior, you can rest now...

Vivre! Rire! Aimer!


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