QUEst for Blackness

(February 2011)

QUEst #1: I was a promising student whose college plans were derailed when my funds were wiped out by the great depression. I managed to find work as a research lab technician, but was employed under the title and pay scale of “janitor” because of institutional racism. Despite these obstacles, my extraordinary surgical and experimental skills led to innovations in vascular and cardiac surgery, and for 35 years, I supervised the labs at one of the leading universities in the United States. It took more than 25 years before I received public credit for my role in revolutionizing heart surgery techniques.

D@mn, now that’s staying in the cut! Got PERSEVERENCE? Prove it! Who am I?

ANS: Vivien Theodore Thomas



QUEst #2: I wore many hats by serving as a journalist, physician, army officer, politician, and judge. I am best known for my promotion of a national home in Africa for African Americans before the Civil War.

I was born free in Charlestown, Virginia. I founded one of the earliest African American newspapers devoted particularly to the abolition of slavery. I was proud of my African ancestry, I advocated unrestricted equality for African Americans, and I participated in conventions to protest slavery.

I began to agitate for a separate nation, trying to get African Americans to settle outside the United States, possibly in Africa, but more probably in Canada or Latin America. In 1854 I led a National Emigration Convention.

I used my skill sets to help BLACK people, when will Omega Men do the same? Who am I?

ANS: Martin Robinson Delany



QUEst #3: I was an educator and statesman. More than any other figure, I laid the foundation of West African nationalism and of pan-Africanism.

I was born in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, of free, literate parents. As a precocious youth, I decided early to become a clergyman. I went to the United States in May 1850 and sought to enter a theological college but was turned down because of my race. In 1851 I emigrated to Liberia, an African American colony which had become independent as a republic in 1847. I became an able and versatile linguist, classicist, theologian, historian, and sociologist. I acted as secretary of state of Liberia.

From 1871 to 1873 I edited the first explicitly pan-African journal in West Africa. I served Liberia again in the capacities of ambassador to Britain and France and as a professor and later president of Liberia College.

I saw himself as a champion and defender of my race. I sought to prove that Africa and Africans have a worthy history and culture. I rejected the prevailing notion of the inferiority of the black man. I argued that Christianity has had a demoralizing effect on blacks, while Islam has had a unifying and elevating influence. As a cultural nationalist, I pointed out that modernization was not incompatible with respect for African customs and institutions. I favored African names and dress and championed the establishment of educational and cultural institutions specifically designed to meet African needs and circumstances.

Omega once was a champion for BLACK causes, what does Omega champion today? Who am I?

ANS: Edward Wilmot Blyden



QUEst #4: I was a leading member of the generation of black Americans who led the abolition movement away from moral suasion to political action. I myself did not stop with politics: I urged slaves to act and claim their own freedom. A constant theme throughout my life was the necessity for blacks to take their destiny into their own hands. My efforts were ably seconded by my oratorical skills which placed me in the front rank among my contemporaries.

I was born into slavery in 1815. My father was the son of a Mandingo warrior prince, taken prisoner in combat.

In 1839 the Liberty Party came into existence with abolition as one of its major planks. I became an early and enthusiastic supporter of this reform party. I was also able to secure the endorsement of the revived National Convention of Colored Men. My turn towards activism marked my break with leading abolitionist who rejected politics in favor of moral reform. I electrified a convention in which I urged slaves to take action to gain their own freedom: The audience was profoundly moved: some wept, others sat with clenched fists.

I was doing especially well because I was the first American black of completely African descent to appear in Great Britain to speak in support of abolition. My prominence made me one of the prime targets of a white working-class mob during the July 1863 draft riots in New York City when blacks and leading abolitionists were assailed.

I delivered a sermon in the chamber of the House of Representatives on February 12, 1865, the first black to do so, and also one of the first blacks allowed to enter the Capitol.

I was an important figure among black abolitionists. I was independent in forming my own views and bold in expressing them. At an early date I helped articulate many of the themes of Black Nationalism. I wished to build up black-controlled institutions, and in the early 1840s I was calling unsuccessfully for the establishment of a black printing company and a black college. I consistently supported black efforts of self-improvement, and included emigration as one of these efforts. It was my conviction that blacks must take control of their destiny which led me in 1843 to call upon slaves to take action and end slavery.

Why is Omega voluntarily putting on the chains of slavery and ignorance even after tasting the sweet nectar of FREEDOM? Who am I?

ANS: Henry Highland Garnet