Teaching Black history to students has always been a part of the curriculum in American schools. The accuracy of it, however, and the necessary context for that type of instruction hasn’t always been there, to put it mildly.
In decades past, the type of Black history that was taught in American schools was mainly relegated to slavery and images of savage, impoverished Africans who should be grateful to their European captors for bringing them to a so-called civilized society. And then, as a special, yet very abbreviated treat, those same schools would “celebrate” Black History Month with the obligatory breakfast events that served stereotypically Black foods like grits and cornbread.
And that was mainly it, for the most part, when it came to teaching any elements of so-called Black history.
Fast forward to 2020 and things have changed drastically on the educational front when it comes to teaching children about true Black history — something that is no longer only restricted to the shortest month of the year.
One history professor at a historically Black college shed light on how important it is to educate children from an early age about Black history without diluting the truth.
“Especially in K through 12 education it’s important to provide doses of truth and allow the students to make their own discoveries,” Frederick Knight, a history professor at Morehouse College in Atlanta who specializes in the African diaspora, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently. “That sets them up to be lifelong learners who cross-check facts and don’t accept everything at face value.”
The authors of a Black history textbook that offers a “gateway to connecting history to daily life” beyond February offered a similar sentiment to Knight.
Black History 365 (BH 365 )is an interactive U.S. history textbook that tells stories from the beginning in ancient Africa through modern events and moments. It documents unique narratives of Black people with lessons that come alive through more than 3,000 original artifacts, including resources and curriculum for teachers and sections for families and small groups. The textbook was published in advance of the current academic year.
The co-authors (Dr. Walter Milton Jr., a former school superintendent; Joel Freeman, a former NBA chaplain and founder of the Freeman Institute Black History Collection; and Heather R. Sanders, a former middle school educator and educational leader in Nashville) previously shared how important their textbook is.
“Black children have an education that’s void of anything that reminds them of their greatness and excellence in terms of achievement,” Milton said. “This textbook is for teachers and students in K-2, 3-5,6-8 and 9-12. It includes all of the components teachers need to be successful in delivering the information.”
Parents, teachers and school administrators are encouraged to visit the BH 365 website, BlackHistoryMatters.org, where they can find the answers to any questions about this revolutionary approach to teaching Black history.