Sunday, April 13, 2008

Durham's Self Portrait

I just finished watching the documentary, "Durham, a Self Portrait." The documentary dealt with the history of Durham, dealing mostly with the early 1900's through the 1960s'. The running theme through the documentary was a "secret game" ie relationship between the rich black folks and rich white folks who have ,historically, run the city. This "secret game" was said to be responsible for the growth of Durham's black middle class and the avoidance of the racial violence that plagued other areas of the South.

Like most of the books and documentaries that receive media attention in Durham, what is important is not what is shown but what is left out. This is the power of the media to simply write certain people and events out of history when covenient.

What about those who travel the path laid down by former resident Howard Fuller? Can you really talk about Durham's history without mentioning the Bruce Bridges, owner of the Know Bookstore or activists like Benard Obie ? How can you not mention Rev. Curtis Gatewood or the role of the various members of the local Nation of Islam Mosque over the years including Preston Muhammad, David Muhammad and Fahim Knight. Not to mention the 21st century activists like Cimeron Bandele and Monica Daye.

To be fair, this part of history was also left out of the Welcome to Durham documentary, as well.

Maybe, this part of Durham history is left out because the issues against which Dr. Fuller fought are still present today and can not be buried in the graveyard of revisionist history. However, if we really want to connect the dots between the "Black Wall Street Days" and the "Welcome to Durham Days" we cannot allow this part of history to be ignored.

Or maybe this is part of the "secret game" that is still being played...