The Importance of Studying History

Black Readers

While there are conspicuous benefits to studying history formally at a higher education institution, an individual is not limited to gaining historical knowledge inside a higher education institution.  A person has a few economical options available to learn more about history: (1) checkout and read history books at public libraries, (2) purchase used copies of history books online, especially on Amazon, and (3) read free online historical material, including websites devoted to history, e-books, and scholarly articles available through Google Scholar.  Understanding the past is crucial to comprehending the present and future.  Too often many are flabbergasted about national and international developments.  If they closely follow history, many national and international incidences will not astound them.

Whether one is a Marxist or not, reading the works of Karl Marx, especially Capital, The Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, The German Ideology, and The Communist Manifesto, will enable a person to see connections between economic and social evolutions.  By reading Marx, one gains an apposite understanding of capitalism and knowing the history of capitalism is requisite to a keen awareness of the history of the modern and postmodern world.

It would be wonderful to have a majority of elected leaders who are students of history.  Just imagine how much better our lives would be if they actually had a robust knowledge of history.  Through a firm awareness of history, our elected officials are able to be more informed about the likelihood of their policies experiencing success.  At the local and national level, too many failed policies of the past are being employed.  What’s frustrating is many elected officials believe they’re offering new policies—when, in reality, those policies have been used in the past and have been miserable failures.

A passion for studying history must birth throughout the nation.  American citizens cannot simply rely on their elected representatives to have a commitment to learning from history—they must be the ones who change their representatives’ relationship (or lack thereof) with history.  Although you may be a student of history, the mistakes of those around you who aren’t students of history can have a deleterious impact on you.  Any transformative changes in economic and social policy will necessitate that a firm historical understanding be evinced.  No matter how brilliant an idea may sound, if the idea is detached from the lessons of history, it will prove to not be so “brilliant” after all.  When we don’t demand our leaders to be led by history, we unintentionally encourage their ineptitude.

An excellent example of how many Americans lack serious historical knowledge is reflected in numerous reactions to Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained.  Too many individuals are attempting to make claims about the film’s treatment of slavery when their responses don’t reveal they’re truly competent about slavery.  Before you proceed to compare the film’s depiction of slavery with the realities of American slavery, you actually have to know the history of American slavery.  Is this too much to ask?  Too many would rather just pontificate about the film and slavery than do the work necessary to have a credible appraisal of the film.  Spike Lee was foolish enough to admit that he was negatively criticizing the film without viewing it.  He expressed that he refuses to watch the film but he was unwilling to forego commenting about a film he has not viewed.  Does this make sense?     

You will find that when you engage more with reading history books, you will develop a greater appreciation for history and will have a more enriched understanding of yourself and the world in which you reside.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Principle Matters

Just like the tree planted by the water, I shall not be moved. Recently, people got together and attempted to derail my efforts to pursue a fascinating opportunity. They used lies and unethical tactics to try to defeat me. While they may think that they have won the battle, I am going to win the war! Their goal was to try to destroy me and take away what is inside of me that makes me so great. Envy and jealous motivated their efforts. The purpose of this article, however, is not to give the Enemy victory, but to encourage you to stay motivated and resolved—no matter what the Enemy tries to do to you.

One of the dimensions of Antonio Maurice Daniels that I am most proud of is the fact that he will never sacrifice his principle for anything or anybody. We need more people who have the courage to maintain their principle, even when it might cost them something in the short term. When you are willing to sacrifice your principle for temporary gain, you are simply prostituting your body; that is, you are selling yourself for a quick and easy return. We have to understand that quick and easy returns have no staying power. If your life is going to matter, you are going to have to learn how to be willing to lose something. If you matter, the Enemy is going to take some things from you at some point. What will matter will not be what you lost, but how you pursued justice in recovering what you have lost.

I look forward to a day when we will rise beyond the superficial and move to the substantial. We need to move from the trivial to Truth. You cannot allow yourself to fall prey to the trivial and the superficial—you must reach beyond them. I am learning each day that the Lord will take care of my enemies. I used to think that it was necessary for me to respond to everything that my enemies did to me. Unfortunately, responding to everything that my enemies did to me was tremendously exhausting. I have adopted an approach of letting God handle them, because when I let Him handle them, they are defeated in ways that I could never have fathomed. My enemies are now restless because God will not allow them to rest on their sin. If you are one of my enemies and you happen to be reading this, please know that your current situation will not improve until you get things right with me.

I will never give the Enemy victory. I will stand up against the Enemy’s devices because I know that greater is He who is in me than He who is in the world. It never ceases to amaze me how people will go out their way to try to do harm to me. They always lose, however. I want you all to know that what God has for you—it already is!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison