Undeniable Legacy - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 1793538

Undeniable Legacy

Who wrote our history? Why was our history written? Writing history gives you the chance to render your opinion. Since the interpretation of history is always subjective, writing allows you to persuade the reader of your argument.

People developed writing to communicate across time and space, carrying it with them as they traded, migrated and conquered. Our history has been altered and enriched to reflect complicated needs and desires. Historians demonstrate their methodology and support their conclusions. Usually, professional historians specialize in a particular aspect of history, a specific time period. Non-historians often say that “history repeats itself,” or that “things were always this way.”

So why were we not told about the “hidden figures” of Mae Carol Jemison, an American engineer, physician and former astronaut? Jemison became the first Black woman to travel into space, aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour. Why was this not in our history books? What could that have done for a little girl who looked like her?

What about all the Black inventors who made daily life easier? For example, Sarah Boone invented the ironing board in 1892. Sarah Boone was an African American woman who was born enslaved.

Before security systems became a fixture in homes, an African American nurse, Mary Van Brittan Brown, devised an early security unit for her own home. She spent many nights at home alone in Queens, while her husband was away, and felt unsafe, with high rates of crime in her neighborhood. On top of that, police were unreliable and unresponsive. So she created a device that would help put her mind at ease.

Why are we just learning about Black Wall Street? A Tulsa race massacre that took place on May 31 and June 1, 1921, when mobs of white residents, some of them deputized and given weapons by city officials, attacked Black residents and destroyed homes and businesses in the Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Why was the phenomenal legacy of Pyrrhus Concer — born in 1814, enslaved at 5 years old, taken from his mom right here the Village of Southampton to work on the Pelletreau farm — never told? Why was this important legacy not included in the school’s local history? Mr. Concer overcame all odds to become a master ship steerer, entrepreneur and philanthropist. Lessons of this legacy can be taught on so many fundamental levels. An undeniable legacy that the Village of Southampton should embrace and celebrate.

Mr. Concer’s rich legacy — Japan celebrated him for his heroic deeds — the Village of Southampton should never erase, but we too should celebrate, restore and embrace establishing a place for all to learn about this extraordinary man’s international and local contributions.

Brenda Simmons

Co-Founder/Executive Director

Southampton African American Museum