When I hear an African American child say with a matter-of-fact tone that Martin Luther King Jr. freed the slaves, I can’t help clutch my heart with distress. The ignorance of black history is disheartening. However, hearing from our own youth is downright painful. I can only imagine that this lack of knowledge stems from the fact that we, as a community, have just become lazy with our teachings.
When I was growing up, I remember listening to Little Known Black history facts on the Tom Joyner Morning Show. In the month of February, my McDonald’smeal included a booklet with facts of African Americans who had achieved great things. In school we did the usual reports on African American historical figures, and once I dressed up as Harriet Tubman for a school project. But my real education came in house. My parents took us to museums and black productions, and introduced us to monumental persons of color in our community. They always told us we had to make sure we knew where we came from in order to successfully make it to where we were going.
Today we recycle the same images of historical black figures, and rarely talk about those which paved the way. I once quizzed some kids on our history by asking them to name 10 significant black persons from history and their contribution to society. Names like Martin Luther King, Harriet Tubman and George Washington Carver flowed out from their domes easily. It didn’t take long for these kids faces to turn from confident to puzzled as their minds drew blank before they had reached that tenth name.
We have to stop allowing our schools to systematically pour the same recycled facts into our children’s head, and step up and educate our youth as a community on the history that makes up the bloodline that currently flows through us. i know the month of February is not enough to teach everything, but it is a start. And that’s all I’m asking for- a start.
What do you think? What more can be done to educate black youth on their history?