Cartoon Black History: Thomas the Tank Engine
John Henry was a steel-driving man. His captain decided to replace him with a steam hammer. To keep his job, John Henry would challenge the steam hammer at laying train tracks and win. But he predicted as a baby that a hammer would be the death of him. He was right as defeating the steam hammer was too much for his heart. But John was that kind of person and would give his life for those that mattered… and Thomas “The Tank” Engine mattered.
Thomas Engine and John Henry were very close. John basically raised Thomas and helped him get to where he was in life. He paved the way for Thomas to be a great man. (I know I’m driving these train track puns into the ground… HA!)
So, after the loss of Henry, Mr. Engine knew he had to be there for his friends and family in the same way. So he vowed to be a mentor for others. He realized the best place to start was with his older brother.
That is Thomas’ brother, Toby “The Tram” Engine. They had a tumultuous relationship. Thomas always resented Toby for being someone he wasn’t by changing his name from the one given to him by their mother… which was Kunta. So the brothers Engine never got along. But Thomas wouldn’t continue to let that get between them.
To Thomas Engine, being able to rekindle that relationship meant he could finally be the rock that his friends needed. He had a lot of friends and they all looked to him for help and support. They needed him as a leader. With pride, Thomas took the position as their number one to pull the best out of them all.
See the pretty lady in the green and red behind Thomas? That’s Emily. She was so impressed by him taking the role of mentor by the horns that she asked him on a date. She would become Mrs. Emily Engine only six months later. The stars aligned and true love is what was illuminated (and a book was even written of their legendary love).
Now that you know all the good things, there is bad news that must be told as well. The good Thomas was doing by building up his circle spread. They became mentors for those under them and so on. Sadly, America didn’t take too kindly to a black community thriving in those days. So Ronald Regan covertly introduced a drug into the neighborhoods called Coal aka Black Crack.
Coal tore the cities apart. Everything the Engines had done was ruined. The crime and destruction Black Crack brought lasted for years after it’s introduction. Seeing what it did to his people literally and figuratively broke Thomas’ heart.
Even “The Tank” couldn’t beat a heart attack. But, like his predecessor, Thomas Engine’s death made the people in his community stop and rethink. His demise was devastating, but it was the only thing bigger than Coal. Slowly but surely, the city and its residents turned everything around. The surviving Engines made mentoring and beautification programs in Thomas’ name. You’ll be surprised what you can do when you stay on the right track.