A. Peter Bailey: The teaching of Black History movin’ on up

by A. Peter Bailey

(TriceEdneyWire.com)—As I have noted before, Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis’ fear about the teaching of Black History in his state’s public schools probably resulted from his having read or heard about a February 1982 Ebony Magazine article “Why Black History Is Important To You.”

Written by the great journalist/historian/author/master teacher, Lerone Bennett Jr., the article includes the following: “People are always telling me that they are too busy making the future to bother with the past. But people who say this give up both the future and the past. The past is not back there; it is happening now. It is the bet your fathers (and your mothers) placed which you must now cover….History is everything; it is everywhere….History is to us what water is to fish. We are immersed in it up to our necks, and we cannot get out of it, no matter what we say or do. And what that means on the level of specifics is that history is knowledge, identity and power.”

DeSantis and millions of other Whites like him in this country don’t want Black folks to know about and understand anything that brings about knowledge, identity and power. Which is exactly what Black Floridians including Rev. Gaston Smith, Rev. Rhonda Thomas, Loren Lyons and Mark Riley have developed programs designed to teach Black History to children in their state.

According to a Washington Post article, Churches step up to teach Black History in Florida, by Brittany Shammas, they have put together an “Eleven-page took kit to guide the churches and suggest books, articles, documentaries and reports covering the Black experience…The chapters, featuring content for all ages, cover a lot of ground. ‘From Africa to America’ one is titled. Another highlights ‘Race, Racism & Whiteness.’ Some 200 faith leaders quickly signed up to use it….”

The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) has also expanded its agenda to combat the threats from DeSantis and others throughout the country. According to its president W. Marvin Dulaney, “After ASALH heard about the success of the three pilot Freedom Schools in Florida, we passed a resolution to sponsor Freedom Schools with our branches throughout the country. ASALH will join the churches in providing the teaching of Black History independent of the public schools in cities and states where ASALH has branches.

Those branches will sponsor classes where teachers will be allowed to take a class in order to provide them with the pedagogy, materials and strategies on how to teach African American history.” Great Black historical leaders in the hereafter including Nat Turner, W.E.B. Dubois, Marcus Garvey, Brother Malcolm X, Harriet Tubman, Fannie Lou Hamer, Martin Luther King, Jr., Medgar Evers, Mary McLeod Bethune and C. Delores Tucker probably fist bumped as they witnessed what Faith in Florida and ASALH are doing.

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