Just Tell The Truth!
AS WE APPROACH ANOTHER BLACK HISTORY MONTH, LET'S PUT A FEW THINGS IN PROPER PERSPECTIVE-
When Dr. Carter. G. Woodson founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (now the Association for the Study of African American Life and History-ASALH) in 1915, he did so to place contributions by African-Americans prominently at the forefront of American History. Not "instead of," but "in addition to." He lobbied schools and organizations to participate in a special program to encourage the study of African-American History, which he founded in February 1926 with Negro History Week. We now know it as Black History Month. (Woodson chose February because February included the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, whom Black communities had celebrated since the late 19th century.)
Mr. Rutledge Pearson, my Eighth Grade American History teacher and the adviser to the Jacksonville Youth Council NAACP during the sit-ins in 1960 and Ax Handle Saturday, and my mentor, told us to leave our American History textbooks at home-a textbook approved for Negro education in the Negro Division (at that time) of the Duval County School System!
He refused to teach American History from a textbook written by Racist White textbook authors and Racist White historians, which only included the names of three Black Americans: Crispus Attucks, without identifying him as Black; Booker T. Washington; and George Washington Carver. Of course, as Black students— "Negro” and "Colored" were the racial terms at the time—we were expected to be grateful that their names were included at all. He then proceeded to teach us an honest and inclusive American History and the many contributions of those who looked like us.
Understand the playing field then and even now. Whites and European American students can readily read what their ancestors did in this country in history textbooks. Blacks cannot, which is the overriding purposeful philosophy when you read segregated and Incomplete, Dishonest, and Racist textbooks of American History that give the impression that Blacks contributed nothing of substance to the development of this country. It should have been as important to read about Black Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, as it was to read about White Eli Whitney; as important to read about Black Ida Wells-Barnett, as it was to read about White Betsy Ross; and as important to read about Black Garrett Morgan, as it was to read about White Benjamin Franklin. Incomplete, Dishonest, and Racist.
How academically pure, historically, and culturally informative it would be to teach an honest American History? How academically pure and historically and culturally informative it would be to read about the many Blacks who impacted America in classroom textbooks? Yet Blacks and their contributions are excluded. Robert Kennedy said, "Truth is the token of trust." Not teaching the honest History of Black Americans' role in the development of this country keeps the playing field untrustworthy, uneven, and dishonest. Thus, White America's opposition to a Truthful American History, which they call Critical Race Theory.
The infrastructure of Racism is rooted in dishonesty and disrespect. We must tell and teach the real story of American History, NOT the version that is Racist, Dishonest, and Incomplete. An Ethiopian proverb says, "He who learns, teaches."
LEARN YOUR HISTORY AND TEACH IT!
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Rodney. L. Hurst, Sr.