I have done a poor job this week of updating the blog…but trust me, I have not wavered on my commitment to giving. In fact, I have some very interesting people to tell you about as I get caught up. Today is Hari’s story.
Being unemployed has some benefits. One thing is that I try to go regularly to the different museums and cultural institutions that Washington has to offer. There is an abundance of information and history here and I have time to soak it up.
I decided to check out the African American Civil War Museum. It is located on the corner of 12th and U in DC. A short walk away is the memorial and the Wall of Honor that remembers the 209,145 soldiers and officers who served in the United States Colored Troops.
Hari is the museum’s curator. He was gracious to spend some time talking with me about the civil war. Listening to Hari unfold the events that led to the civil war is exhilarating. Usually when someone tells you about some event that took place deep in our history, it is hard to appreciate the actual event because you don’t have sufficient understanding of contributing events, cultural references, etc. But Hari anticipated my questions and painted the full picture for me.
He first was drawn to history by his elders in his hometown of Pauls Valley, OK. The elders took the time to explain to Hari historical events that they had lived through. In the 8th and 11th grade, Hari discovered that the text books that he was using didn’t accurately portray the involvement of Americans of African descent in the Civil War. His teachers at the time, Ms. Bagley and Ms. Wallace respectively, understood that this history was suppressed and taught the true history.
Hari went on to graduate from the University of Oklahoma. It was there that he had a Kenyan American professor of African American History who was not only ignorant of the involvement of African Americans in the Civil War but refused to teach it saying that it was not on his syllabus. It was this encounter that fueled Hari’s desire to dedicate himself to researching the involvement of African Americans in the Civil War.
He received a commission in the Marine Corps and later found himself as an instructor at the Naval Academy. He realized that there was still a lack of understanding of our own history and felt that Americans need a foundation of common understanding about our own history before we are fully capable of dealing with conflict and struggles in foreign lands. “If we can not understand what went on her in our own history and what cultural attributes were possessed by Americans” Hari explained, “then it will be impossible for us to do it anywhere else. The only thing that we’ll be able to do is to kill people when we can not get them to understand our way of thinking.”
Hari left the Marine Corps to dedicate himself full-time to the topic. I encourage you to stop by the Museum and meet Hari. If he has time, I know he would be happy to share with you his extensive knowledge of our nation’s history.
Here is a clip of Hari discussing our views on race and how a paradigm shift has occurred in our society’s views about race as it pertains to sports and how this represents a much greater paradigm shift in our society’s way of thinking.
It’s no surprise that Hari decided to donate his $10 to the museum.
For those of you who can not make it to the museum to meet Hari, he recommended two books to me that you might want to check out:
- The Great Conspiracy by John Alexander Logan
- A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn – A note about Mr. Zinn. He died unexpectedly on January 27th of this year. He was 87. He was quoted as saying that he would like to be remembered “for introducing a different way of thinking about the world, about war, about human rights, about equality,” and “for getting more people to realize that the power which rests so far in the hands of people with wealth and guns…ultimately rests in people themselves and that they can use it.”