There are many pearls of wisdom and experience which may be found anywhere, often hidden in plain sight. Michael S. Johnson has taken the time to highlight 366 pearls of Black/African American history, culture and experience in his book, Hidden Treasures: A Collection of African American Facts. Johnson’s first publication is a chronological assemblage of interestingly unknown, little known or incorrect (in general public) history in order to “shine the light on each calendar day of the year and reveal a hidden treasure”.
The preface pages hold a Dedication, a Foreword by Rev. Dr. Bernard Keels, an Acknowledgement and two quotes– one by Thurgood Marshall and the other by Zora Neal Hurston. Both quotes are about acknowledgement of a person’s greatness in spite of the further road to travel. Rev. Dr. Keels states, "You will never know where you're going until you realize where you have been."
The daily delicacies of Black History are quite succinct, leaving the reader with ample opportunity to research the deeper knowledge of each fact, while covering the basics well enough to capture the totality of the information (ten lines of print at most). For example, the first holiday to commemorate an African American legacy is not Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which is celebrated on the third Monday of January, on or near January 15th which is his birthday. The first US holiday honoring a Black man is actually January 5th. In 1946 President Truman signed the declaration that the 5th would “be nationally recognized as George Washington Carver Day.” Johnson states this with five lines, leaving it to the reader to follow up as they see fit.
On April 9, 1887 Florence Beatrice Smith Price was born. She was the first African American to receive recognition as a composer. In August of 1746 Lucy Terry wrote “Bars Fight”, which is the “first poem to be preserved by an African American as an oral narrative.” It wasn’t published until 1855, but for at least a century it was spoken or sung. The first Black man to graduate from West Point Military Academy is listed, as is the first African American to play organized hockey, and the first African American Attorney licensed to practice law (Macon B. Allen – who was also a partner in the first Black Law Firm). Pulitzer Prize Winners, Arctic explorers, spies, Russian Literature writers, astronauts, war heroes, sports icons and of course artists and performers “have their day”. Even February 29th is accounted for, with a first time Oscar winner.
Johnson admits to being humbled by his publication. I would call Hidden Treasures a Black History daily devotional, full of wonderful tidbits (Johnson calls them nuggets) about Black/African Americans. This publication is meant to begin conversations about the African American/Black culture and history by informing the reader of what may have gone unnoticed in light of other information and education. Each month has a cover page with a treasure chest, key and gold, to reinforce the idea that these treasures are found and valuable. “Hidden Treasures purpose is not only to uplift, inform, inspires, and educate readers, but to extend the conversation beyond the facts of the book.”
162p $11.99 on Amazon.com
Publisher: Mosaic Paradigm Group, LLC. (February 10, 2014)
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