If we had the power to go back and change the history of this country, what would we change?
First on my list would be to prevent slavery and the forced importation of Africans into this country.
Likely as not we would have avoided the Civil War, the bloodiest war in American history.
Just as certainly we would give up Jazz, the Blues, R&B, Rock and Roll, Hip Hop and almost every genre that produced the sounds that today are so quintessentially associated with American culture.
We would lose the rich voices of people like Langston Hughes, Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison, and Maya Angelou. Books such as To Kill A Mockingbird. Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Huck Finn.
The scientific community would never have had George Washington Carver or Benjamin Banneker.
We would have missed the contributions of intellectuals like Booker T. Washington, Frederick Douglass and W.E.B. Dubois.
We might still have Barack Obama, but he would not have married Michelle Robinson.
No Willy Mays or Shoeless Jackson. No Wilt Chamberlain or Michael Jordan. No Thurgood Marshall or Barbara Jordan. No Bill Cosby, Will Smith, Morgan Freeman or Denzel. No Sidney Poitier, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Paul Robeson or Billy Holiday. No Ella, no BB, no Aretha. Harry Belafonte’s contributions to the world might have been limited to his music.
Dave’s magnificent pottery would never have been thrown.
Martin Luther King Jr. would never have walked among us; by the same token, we may not have needed him. Or Ralph Abernathy, Rosa Parks, Medgar Evers, or Malcolm X.
I would have been willing to pay the price, but I also relish what that heritage has brought us. I cannot imagine what this country would be like today without their contributions.