“The overall narrative goes something like this: America overcame slavery, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. helped usher in new civil rights laws, and then we elected the first Black president. This story gives a false sense of progress, or “post-racialism.” And it has real-life effects: When students are unable to connect the past to the present, it’s harder for them to recognize or fight against the oppressive systems that harm Black people to this day.”
Dillard, Coshandra. “Why We Need Black History Month.” Learning for Justice, 11 Jan. 2019, http://www.learningforjustice.org/magazine/why-we-need-black-history-month.
We’ve entered February, the month widely recognized as Black History Month in American schools. It’s treated like a timeout, a side note to the year’s history curriculum in a nod to the civil rights movement, and therein lies the problem.
Black history IS American history. Instead of chunking it into twenty-eight days of “holidays and heroes” we need educators to do a better job the rest of the year teaching a more complete version of our country’s history. It isn’t always pretty but the truth rarely is.
There are a number of ways American history is whitewashed. Here are just a few things you probably didn’t learn about in school.