Blood Fuels the Greatness of America

October 7, 2020  |  Published by


As a young boy, I spent hours and hours trying to imagine myself as the hero, the explorer, and the adventurer of great stories. I found it very difficult because I was never introduced to examples of African Americans as courageous contributors to the great story of America.

In elementary school, I received my first Social Studies book and my teacher explained with great enthusiasm that this book contained the stories of people who made America great. I tore through the book searching chapter after chapter for a story that would finally affirm my place, my presence, in America's great story.

Chapter after chapter, I was disappointed as I finally reached a heading titled "American Slavery." Below the heading was an image of an African American man sitting slumped forward, seemingly broken, with layer upon layer of scars across his back. The caption simply read: The American Negro, Slave.

In that moment, the message to this nine-year-old mind was clear: I was not the hero, these were not my adventures, and my courage did not make America great. I was just the raw resource—blood, sweat, and tears extracted like coal to fuel the greatness of America.

Hasan and his sister, Theresa
Hasan and his sister, Theresa

It might not surprise you that by middle school I stopped standing to say the Pledge of Allegiance every morning. I began to fight and disrupt class. Fortunately, my self-destructive spiral was interrupted by my mother and father who went out of their way to ensure that I was exposed to powerful true stories that debunked the popular myths of homogenous heroes of America.

They were my first hope dealers. The gift of their counter-narratives allowed me to see the greatness and the hero in myself. Thus, I forged a commitment to be a hope dealer, to empower hope dealers.

Candelen extends a huge thank you to Hasan for providing us with his powerful words in preparation for his UpLearning session "Hope Dealer Wanted: Every Child Has a Story, Every Story Deserves Heroes." on Saturday, October 17, 2020.

UpLearning is a free virtual learning series to replace Candelen's in-person conferences.

Madeleine Lovett

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