I walked into the Black Museum and was in awe of all the history of my people.
I saw and read things that I had never known.
But what I saw next would astound me for the rest of my life.
In the corner of the museum sat a scene of an old man in a rocking chair.
The artwork was life-like and the creativity to make the wax mannequin was amazing.
The setting was of a cabin and the old man had a corncob pipe in his mouth.
The sign next to the display read,
I looked at Old Jim and said to him,
"I bet you could tell me some stories that were never written."
The artistry was amazing and so life-like,
I had to touch it.
I looked at the old man and stared at every fine detail of him.
I touched his pipe and then he turned to me and said,
"I am 125 years old and I have seen it all."
Needless to say this startled me and I almost ran from the museum.
He was old and wrinkled with lifelines drawn on his face.
His eyes were sunken into his brow deep and dark.
at least the little that he had,
was silver gray and missing in some spots.
He raised his finger at me and it begin to shake and quiver.
His lips were dry and his clothes were worn and tattered.
He looked up at me again and said,
"I have seen it all."
This statement alone made me realize his mind was as sharp as a razor.
"Don't run from me son,
for I mean you no harm.
I've seen you here on several occasions and you always make the same
comment to me.
I have seen it all."
My mind had calmed down now and felt at ease.
I knew there was nothing to fear but the truth.
I sat down on the floor in front of "Old Jim" and he began to
rock back and forth.
"Excuse me Old Jim,
but could you enlighten me about my history?"
He looked at me and said,
your history is well documented and the things I could tell you would fall
along the same lines.
But I will tell you what I see about this generation."
"Old Jim" had my full attention.
He took a deep breath and his little deflated chest expanded.
The glasses that he wore fell down to the tip of his nose and his
pipe began to blow smoke from it.
I've seen hundreds of people walk through here and I've seen
even more stand right over there and stare at me.
They talk about me as if I wasn't here at all.
The little White Chilen laff and throw things at me.
They call me Nigga, Blackie and Coon.
Sometimes they take my glasses off my face and break em.
They make up rhymes to degrade me and pull what little hair I have out.
The older Chilens throw pencils that stick in my face and body of wax."
I looked at "Old Jim" and said,
"but you can't feel it Jim,
you're made of wax."
Old Jim stopped rocking in his chair and looked at me with his deep dark
eyes and said,
do you think because God made your body hard and strong that you can't feel
insults of degradation, depravation, and degeneration.
Your soul still feels the pain.
Has the world not grown to the point where respect is still
As it was not throughout our history?"
I just looked at "Old Jim" and dropped my head in shame.
He was right,
We still have not earned the respect from the majority.
Old Jim went on to say,
"The thing that hurt the most,
is when the Black Chilen come here.
They speak in a language that is foreign to me.
Not like our African Brothers and Forefathers that were brought over
in ships and bound by chains.
What the hell does Hooty Hoo mean?"
I smiled and chuckled to myself and even "Old Jim" laughed.
He went on to say,
"The Chilen talk about using things that they said would get them high.
I don't think there talking about climbing a tree or a mountain.
They speak of defending their colors and I know they're not talking about
Red, Black and Green.
Then they say they're going to kill somebody tonight.
Lord why have we not learned from our past?
Did we die in vain?
Did our being bound in chains and whipped with leather mean anything?
I have seen it all and I'm still asking?"
Tears began to flow from my eyes and "Old Jim" looked at me and smiled,
"Why do you cry young man?
Yous a free man and the war is over.
We die for you a long time ago,
but we need you to live for us."
I realized then that the spirits of our Fathers live on through
each and every one of us.
That we are supposed to learn from our past so we don't repeat the same
That we must stand up for causes that we believe are just and at the same time,
be willing to die for what we believe is right.
I tried to ask "Old Jim" another question and he just sat there.
Then I heard another voice say,
"Excuse me Sir,
but what are you doing on the floor?"
I looked up at the man and said,
"Learning to stand up and believe in myself and my people."
The movers came to remove the display of Old Jim from the museum.
I asked why and they said,
"Old Jim is not an attraction for our youth."
I stood up and looked the men square in their eyes and said,
"Old Jim is not only an attraction,
he is our history,
and he is us.
Old Jim has seen it all."
The curator of the museum walked up and looked at me.
He put his hand on my shoulder and turned to the movers.
"I think we'll keep Old Jim right here where he belongs."
The curator was an older Black Man and he looked at me with gratitude
"You're right son.
Thank you for letting me see that our history and knowledge has not been in vain."
I looked at him and said,
"What did you mean by I'm right?"
He looked at me with the purest serenity and said,
"Old Jim has seen it all."
Written by Jlivory