Post by Ms. JA
Welcome to Black History Month (BHM)—a month-long FEDERAL observance of black history, documented oppression, trailblazers, continued firsts, and ‘the culture.’ There has long been an understanding that Black History is American History, but is it really taught in schools? Do children learn past "I have a dream", Rosa Parks, Malcolm X or the Obama’s? They should. And while some states have legislation related to teaching Black history in schools and a dedicated curriculum (e.g. New Jersey’s Amistad Curriculum), to what extent is it followed?
Speak to the youth and you will be surprised by the number of students who’ve never heard of Carter G. Woodson or what the Pan African Flag is and/or why it exists. We assume they have the tools, but we must build their foundation so the world can’t break their intellectual structure. Although curriculum may be passed via legislation, few people are checking for fidelity of implementation. Therefore, we lack certainty about whether schools are following through and providing innovative lessons across K-12. During BHM, it is not enough to merely post facts about the same high-profile figures; it is essential that we delve deeper into the contributions of people like George Washington Carver, and Claudette Colvin, milestones such as Loving v. Virginia, and issues like the school-to-prison pipeline.
NJ, in particular, has the Amistad Curriculum for the expansion of Black History being taught within the curriculum. This is supposed to highlight Black/African American history year-round and via events. Great, right? Wrong. I ask these questions because celebrating BHM is often seen as exclusionary. Additionally, the rhetoric of "we teach it daily” is used to show progression.
So what can we do as individuals, businessman, and educators to ensure we are doing our best to educate youth on Black history? We can create, we can educate, and we can celebrate this month with pride. No matter which part of the Diaspora we come from, we should challenge everyone in our household or core group to a higher standard. The National Black Lives Matter movement has a yearly resource guide with information for K-collegiate. Let us give BHM informational handouts to our youth and recommend enlightening podcasts to adults. Let's support our black community in the anniversary of our past to preserve the memory of why we must continue to build upon our future.
Also, we should reach out to our local schools, boards of education, NAACP, and churches to see how we can honor distinguished and LOCAL trailblazers within our community. Too often, BHM is viewed as a single event; instead, it should be pushed harder throughout curricula or the community.
Be on the lookout for NJ schools supporting BHM/Black Lives Matter (BLM) at school initiatives.
See below a picture from South Orange/Maplewood community showing their support for BLM as well as the goals of Black Lives Matter at School Week National Week of Action goals!
Click this link to see the list of events.