For many of us, the mere mention of Black History Month brings to mind Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks, individuals widely acknowledged as the embodiment of Black struggle and success. Next may come images of corporations attempting to capitalize on Black pride via red, black and green-themed print advertisements, with half-baked tributes to Black leaders and sales on hair care products and soul food.
Are Kente tablecloths and Dr. King bulletin boards the best we have to offer today in our children’s classrooms?
The answer, of course, is no.
These compartmentalized and sanitized celebrations of Black history are the opposite of what Carter G. Woodson had in mind when he began Negro History Week in 1926. He wanted to change the narrative of American and world history by incorporating school curricula and programs that unearthed Black contributions.
From online exhibitions to DNA ancestry tests, the potential power of Black history in America’s schools is expanding. But there is a catch. Despite the growing number of resources, our nation’s schools often shoulder individual teachers with the responsibility of bringing Black history into the curriculum. In addition, national education policies like the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001 and the Common Core State Standards Initiative make integrating Black history into lesson plans a difficult task.
Read more in the February issue of EBONY Magazine.
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R. L'Heureux Lewis-McCoy, PhD