Message of the Ancestors
Founding editor-in-chief Tony Williamson's January 27, 1993 article, "Peace, Justice and Equality: Can America Provide Any of It?", is an example of The Nubian Message's early calls for African Americans to remember slavery and the struggles of their ancestors for freedom. At the same time, this article and others like it in the early 1990s reveal a certain anger at mainstream white society's papering over of historical and ongoing racism, and a certain bitterness about the possibility that African Americans could ever achieve racial equality in the United States under these circumstances. Again indicating the influences of Black Nationalism and Pan-Africanism on their thought, many early writers argued that African Americans should reject the history that mainstream society teaches and that too often ignores African-American experiences, and locate their roots instead in African history and accomplishments. Slavery in that view was a challenge that their noble ancestors overcame, and one that could inspire present-day African Americans to continue the "struggle."
In his article, Williamson argued that "racial harmony" was a pipe dream in a "country which is governed by a system of racism and oppression." He contended that the "American Dream," defined as "happiness through material wealth," was never intended for African Americans, which is evident because both emanicipation and the civil rights movements did little to alter African Americans' lesser status in society. As such, African Americans should define their own models of success based on values of family, education, and community. Moreover, African Americans should reject the "historical brainwashing" that takes place in America, wherein mainstream white society teaches that African Americans were "savages who were civilized through slavery" and that African and African Americans' historical accomplishments were white accomplishments instead. Williamson rejected such interpretations and argued that African Americans should take pride in "true heroes" like Marcus Garvey and Malcolm X, who are "often regarded as irrational troublemakers, instead of being recognized as the crusaders for justice that they were." By actively rejecting mainstream history and values and instead defining their own principles and roles models, Williamson said, African Americans can provide a different path for their community's future than the one that mainstream society has laid out for them.
Two years later, George Gaitland reiterated Williamson's calls to remember slavery and continue the struggle for freedom. In his March 9, 1995 editorial, Gaitland argued that African Americans had forgotten the struggles that their ancestors endured in slavery and were taking their freedom for granted. He drew extensively upon the experiences of Frederick Douglass, an escaped slave from Maryland who became a leader of the abolitionist movement, to show how the hardships and brutality of slavery galvanized African Americans to push for equality, education, and self-improvement. He then contrasted this drive with the present-day decline in African American involvement in schools, communities, and the workplace. Because African Americans were no longer threatened by slavery, he wrote, they have become "apathetic" and indifferent to ongoing racism in society. Gaitland therefore concluded that "experiencing slavery over again seems necessary for the Afrikan-American race, as a whole, in order to realize the freedom that is slipping through our hands."