Beyond Slavery and the Civil Rights Movement: Teachers Should Be Integrating Black History Into Their LessonsRoundup
tags: education, schools, African American history, Black History Month
Melinda D. Anderson is a freelance journalist reporting on race and equity in education. Follow her on Twitter @mdawriter.
This Black History Month has been packed with controversy, with scandals and headlines revolving around blackface dominating the national conversation. But some say the singular focus on blackface distracts from the larger issues — namely, how little is known about the nation’s deeply racist history, and what is — and isn’t — taught about the black American experience in the nation’s public schools.
This month, two of Virginia’s top-elected officials admitted to wearing blackfaceduring their college years. Luxury retailer Gucci pulled a black turtleneck with oversized red lips from its shelves for resembling blackface. And high school students — from Wisconsin to Alabama — came under fire for blackface incidents. The debate brought into focus blackface minstrelsy, the practice of white performers darkening their skin to caricature black people that dates back to the 19th century.
According to experts, teaching an accurate and thorough version of history is essential to breaking down stereotypes and misconceptions. Yet much of what students learn about black people’s distinct American story is hit-or-miss.