The Place of Color In The Celebration of History

The Place of Color In The Celebration of History

Based on a paper delivered by Oliver O. Mbamara (titled: Black History And The Celebration of Color) at the Interfaith Council For Community Development Celebrating Black History 2014 event.

It is common knowledge that no color is exclusive to any particular society or people because the world is made up of human beings of different shapes and shades of color. Accordingly, the celebration of color is (or should be) a universal event that is not exclusive to any particular set of people. Yet, there are those who find it convenient to define a person by the color of the skin, but should that really be the case?

The fact is that a person is indeed defined more by his spirit, his values, and the strength of his character than by the color of his skin. No doubt, a person's skin color is one of the easiest means of determining the part of the world a person may have come from in this life. Yet, it is by no means an exclusive perimeter since there are always people of different colors in any particular geographical settlement.

What is The Place of Color? There are scientific and anthropological findings that trace the oldest human specie (homo sapiens) to Africa supporting the fact that human evolution and civilization originated in Africa. It is therefore understandable if in the celebration of black history many ascribe being black to being African, and if they therefore feel that the celebration of color should be more of an African celebration but the truth is that being black is not exclusive to the African continent. Historical, archeological, and anthropological findings support the fact that the evolution of the shapes of man and the shades of his skin color evolved from the early days as man migrated from Africa and across the hemispheres depending on the circumstances and direction of the migration.

Whereas the early Africans associated with the cradle of civilization may have shared a more similar and minimal variation of skin color, their descendants today share a more significant mixture of the original color and alongside its diluted variations resulting from heredity at birth (direct or cross-breeding), climatic influence, and migration. The fact is, a particular color may be dominant in any given society but there are always other colors - even if they happen to be in the minority.

Who is an African? How does the foregoing fact impact the identity, perception, and/or definition of an African and persons of various skin color and hair texture?  Just as the color of the early African has undergone variations, so also has the identity, perception, and/or definition of who is an African or a person of color evolved.

There is no perfect definition of who is an African for every definition has to be taken in the context of the topic in issue as the word "African" could denote a people, a concept, a territory, a heritage, an ideology, an appellation, or even more. I urge you to find your own definition even as I define as follows: "An African is - a person who either is from the territory of the African continent by birth or ancestry, or a person who migrated from the African continent either in the current generation or the ones before." A person is not de-Africanized by a lack of precise practice of traditional African cultures as even cultures and languages undergo transformation, yet the practice of African cultures and the understanding of African languages remain very significant indications of how close one is to his/her African roots and identity."

Note that the above definition does not accommodate any differences by virtue of skin color or hair texture for those may vary depending on factors such as climate, breeding, or artificial manipulation, but the importance of the place of Africa cannot be ignored. What does emerge from this definition is that we all are in fact Africans though varied over the years by factors of life and nature. Therefore, Man's effort to classify fellow men by virtue of physical attributes is more an expression of human limitation than a necessary preoccupation. It stands in the way of the recognition and celebration of man's Divine qualities and the utilization of man's vast potentialities even as the homo sapiens - the supposed most intelligent and imaginative being on earth.

Who we really are: It is the nature of the human race (not exclusive to any particular people) for man to come (assigned) in different shades, nature, gender, and character. Those are simply tools for the journey of life and every man gets assigned what he basically needs and in line with what he has earned. The emphasis on such differences can only amount to a distraction from who we really are beyond the appearance of skin-color, hair texture, language, accent, or character. We are who we are.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Oliver O. Mbamara is an Admin. Judge of New York State. He is also a filmmaker and a published writer, poet, and playwright. For more on Oliver Mbamara, please visit



References & Citations:

DNA result - -

Oldest Human Fossil (homo sapiens)



Anthropology - - Anthropology is the study of humankind, past and present, that draws and builds upon knowledge from social and biological sciences, as well as the humanities and the natural sciences.

Archaeology - – Archaeology, or archeology,is the study of human activity in the past, primarily through the recovery and analysis of the material culture and environmental data that they have left behind, which includes artifacts, architecture, biofacts (also known as eco-facts) and cultural landscapes (the archaeological record). Because archaeology employs a wide range of different procedures, it can be considered to be both a science and a humanity, and in the United States it is thought of as a branch of anthropology although in Europe it is viewed as a separate discipline.



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