How do we begin to encompass and even understand our nation’s history amid a culture of change? Yes, it seems almost impossible with each generation to hold on to a full history of where we came from and where we are heading. Our human and generational tendency is to rewrite history to fit whatever culture of change we are embarking on.
Who of us are willing to even take the time to dig into our history for a fuller understanding of what was and is happening all around us? For many of us, we simply say, “I have enough in daily life to contend with. I just don’t have the time.” I recognize there is a big difference between someone who is just starting out in life or in the middle trying to take care of a growing family and elder parents who are beginning to need help themselves. So, for the few of us who have the time and opportunity, let’s dig in.
The Culture of Change
According to Edward B. Tylor, English anthropologist and founder of cultural anthropology, in his Primitive Culture, Volume 1, “Culture or civilization, taken in its wide ethnographic sense, is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.”
For me, every aspect of culture and history reflects at its core the beliefs of any one generation passed on to the next. As those beliefs change, so does the culture and history that records human activity over the eons. And since we are all essentially biased on many fronts, history is often altered to fit those biases. We tend to spotlight what we want to remain and attempt to alter or ignore those areas of history that makes us uncomfortable or don’t fit our preferred narrative.
Another bias is the fact that we live in a sensational-seeking culture where we are fed the bizarre or unique at every turn. Viewing and reading about history is often considered boring and uninspiring. This is where we begin to lose a more complete view of history simply by the way we keep so busy. We seldom consider what is most important in how we spend our time. Yet, during this COVID and racial upheaval, may we all change our priorities enough to pay attention to the history we need to hear and culture of change that controls most of our daily lives.
The Hope of History
My hope is as you explore, you just may find a way to support your values and faith in helping our nation reestablish our moral compass and further racial redemption. Our founding fathers, like us all, were imperfect and flawed. They were all struggling with the very culture they were living in. Each found themselves at odds, fighting for racial justice while at the same time participating in a culture of slavery. Yet, they brought into the fray a core foundation of freedom and responsibility we all need to revisit. Keep in mind many lost everything including their lives.
In the historical mix of our evolving national redemption, in 1869, Senator Hiram Revels of Mississippi and Representative Joseph Rainey of South Carolina became the first African Americans to serve in Congress. Their positions a decade earlier were held by southern slave-owners. Since then a total of 162 African Americans have served as U.S. Representatives, Delegates, or Senators.
Digging Deeper Resources
The following are some resources you may want to dig into related to our nation’s history and culture, back then and today.
- History Channel
- National Geographic/History
- Wallbuilders Library
- History, Art, & Archives, House of Representatives
- African American Senators
- Under Our Skin: Getting Real about Race. Getting Free from the Fears and Frustrations that Divide Us by Benjamin Watson
No matter what bias may appear in every circle of recorded history and the media source you frequent, begin to choose where you will support your core values with your money, time, materials, and effort. Of course, with any group or organization you are thinking of supporting, it is important to vet them for integrity and financial transparency. As with the Black Lives Matter movement, there is a big difference between this continuing redemptive movement and the organization that uses that term. Read their mission and goals to be aware of how they compare with your own values and beliefs. Don’t just assume the term reflects your values.
If you are seeking something to support a fuller history and national legacy on behalf of African Americans right here in the Texas Hill Country, I have one for you. You will be helping to honor and preserve the history and legacy of black families who lived in the Texas Hill Country – Wren Cemetery Preservation Association. This organization’s mission is to preserve the Wren Cemetery in Boerne, Texas, and provide education to those seeking knowledge regarding cultures, slavery, the civil war and post-civil war life.
As you explore our nation’s history and culture, may you choose organizations that foster your faith, values, and principles in global human affairs and lessons of history. In the next article, the focus will be on Public Policy/Domestic & International Affairs. Let’s discover what groups or organizations support human justice and compassion in legislation, domestic policy, and international relations.