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Teaching Our History Our Way

The great contributions that Black Americans have made to the development of this country are under attack by the Make America Great Again right-wing zealots. The state governments in both Texas and Florida are taking the lead on behalf of the MAGA group in eliminating Black history courses from their public schools. What they would like is a return to the times when Black Americans had no input into the teaching of their children. It was what Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois called it “enforced ignorance.” Immediately following Reconstruction, all institutions governing the people were given back to the oppressors determined to keep the Black community in a subservient status. What was taught in the schools became one of the highest priorities of the ruling class.  The iconic actor George Orwell best describes the motivation of those who dictated what was to be taught when he wrote, “The most effective way to destroy a people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” That is what was done for over a century to Black Americans in this country. It was best articulated in Dr. Carter G. Woodson’s book, The Miseducation of the Negro. When a Chinese delegation visited the United States in 1935, they asked Reverend Howard Thurman, “Why would the Negro allow another race of people to educate their children?”  Dr. Woodson acted on the question posed by the Chinese when he, as early as 1926, created Negro History Week.  With the MAGA group’s attempt …

The great contributions that Black Americans have made to the development of this country are under attack by the Make America Great Again right-wing zealots. The state governments in both Texas and Florida are taking the lead on behalf of the MAGA group in eliminating Black history courses from their public schools. What they would like is a return to the times when Black Americans had no input into the teaching of their children. It was what Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois called it “enforced ignorance.” Immediately following Reconstruction, all institutions governing the people were given back to the oppressors determined to keep the Black community in a subservient status. What was taught in the schools became one of the highest priorities of the ruling class. 

The iconic actor George Orwell best describes the motivation of those who dictated what was to be taught when he wrote, “The most effective way to destroy a people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” That is what was done for over a century to Black Americans in this country. It was best articulated in Dr. Carter G. Woodson’s book, The Miseducation of the Negro. When a Chinese delegation visited the United States in 1935, they asked Reverend Howard Thurman, “Why would the Negro allow another race of people to educate their children?”  Dr. Woodson acted on the question posed by the Chinese when he, as early as 1926, created Negro History Week. 

With the MAGA group’s attempt to implement that “enforced ignorance” curriculum back into our schools, it is critical that Black Americans support Black History Month. For the next 29 days in February, we must fill our newspapers, our airwaves, our churches, and any other means of communication with the rich history of our ancestors who together survived the most horrendous oppressive system the world has ever known. We must, in our own institutions, teach our young about the heroic efforts of Nat Turner, Harriett Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, and the thousands of Black citizens who fought their way to freedom through the underground railroad and during the Civil War. Throughout the entire 20th century, the history written by Black historians is filled with the events, the acts, and the actors who moved this country from a racist country to one that could feel proud of its accomplishments toward an equal and just society.

However, today, we are faced with the MAGA group that wants to destroy all the progress that we have made, and one of the methods is to control once again what is taught in our history books. What they must know, however, is that Black America will never allow that to happen because we will teach our history our way not only throughout February but the entire year.

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