By Tiniya Bailey
Black History Month has been celebrated during the month of February for the last 43 years. It gives recognition to black leaders and it’s celebrated in many ways, including going to museums and churches, or by being taught in school. However, some students feel as though they don’t learn enough about Black history in their classes. According to an article for the Washington Post, Donald Earl Collins, professor of history at the University of Maryland University College, explained, “In many schools, teaching American history often means ignoring racism. A recent Southern Poverty Law Center report shows that few K-12 teachers have the textbooks, understanding and comfort with the material necessary to teach about slavery,” Collins said.
U.S. History teacher Natalee Lewis described the importance of Black history and explained why it is important that students should be well informed of Black history, even if it’s not an essential learning requirement.
“Black history is a part of U.S. history, so we weave it into the different topics as much as we can,” Lewis said. “We do our best to emphasize the contributions of various minority groups in each of our ELs in U.S. History. Sometimes we talk about the negative impact that an event has on different minority groups as well,” Lewis said.
Teachers aren’t required to teach about each and every black leader, but they try their best to implement appropriate parts of Black history into their discussions.
“We don’t teach Black history month as a special part of the curriculum. We recently discussed the impact of minorities’ contributions during WWII and discussed the Tuskegee Airmen’s impact on the war. But we don’t teach Black history as a separate part of the curriculum,” Lewis said.
In the summer of 2018, Indiana lawmakers approved a bill that requires all high schools to offer an ethnic study group starting the fall of 2019. According to Indiana Public Media, “Ethnic studies standards also include the exploration of different ethnic and racial groups’ history within the U.S. and abroad. It will also allow students to examine different challenges, champions, and traditions for various groups, and different policies and factors that impact them.”
Lyniya Germany, an African American student at WCHS who is currently enrolled in U.S. History herself. She explained the importance of Black history to her and described the importance of Black History Month.
“I think it is a good thing to be celebrated in a month; although it’s not acknowledged, I still celebrate it everyday,” Germany said. “If it’s another holiday, you see posters around the school. They will have things for it but for Black history you won’t see nothing about it, it’s not mentioned by teachers; it’s like we care but other people don’t.”
Lauryn Priscille Coulibaly Racine, is an African American student at WCHS, enrolled into U.S. History. She also gave suggestions on how the school should celebrate Black History Month. Coulibaly Racine has strong but reasonable beliefs on why students should learn more about Black history.
“Black history should be included by having activities like every teacher can make a game that shows appreciation to black leaders and the African American community. The school can also organize a kind of ‘pep rally’ for this month,” Coulibaly Racine said. “Whether it’s Black History [Month] or not, I still celebrate it everyday because our community has come a long way and by celebrating Black History, it’s a way to show how happy and proud I am. It shouldn’t be just one month; it should be every month, and I make sure when I wake up every day I remind myself how proud I am to be Black.”
Black History Month is an important time to give recognition to the Black leaders who have helped give us all a better life. This fall we should see some changes into the school year that should be beneficial to all the students here at WCHS. Hopefully these words from Maya Angelou, a civil rights activist and black leader will inspire you: “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”