With just a couple more weeks left in January, I wanted to write a post challenging people to encourage their children’s schools to celebrate Black History Month. If you are thinking, “My kids are white, and attend a majority white school”, I would like to inform you that: Black History is American history. It benefits all children to learn about how Black people have enriched our country. Most schools try to “white wash” history to make it sound like white people have been superior throughout the ages.
I was recently talking to my kids’ babysitter who is a Black teenage girl attending a high school in Utah. She was telling me about how she is trying to have a discussion with her peers about the privilege they have of learning about their history. It really hit home to me that it really is part of white privilege to be able to learn about your history at school. Kids of color do not always have that opportunity. That is why I have been working for the past few months with Davis School District in Utah to implement a Black History Month program. It has been a pretty long process with a lot of ups and downs and meetings. I am hopeful that next year will be better.
At this point, I’m not sure what is going to happen with my school district and Black History Month. I recently had a meeting with Sophie’s principal and she is very supportive and encouraging! We have wonderful things planned for Sophie’s school and Black History Month! I am so excited!
These are the things Sophie’s school is going to be doing and I would like to challenge each of you to take these ideas and see what you can do at your child’s school. Even if you are a white parent with white kids in a majority white school! Everyone benefits from learning about African American History:
- Ask your child’s principal to send this letter to faculty, staff and parents:
Dear Educators and Parents,
Black history is American History. February is known for it’s bad weather, Valentine’s Day and growing interest in college hoops. More importantly, February is Black History Month, and it’s important for our country to take some time to reflect on the importance African Americans have played in American history and what our country and the world can learn from this experience.
One of the darkest aspects of our collective history is the institutional racism and discrimination that African Americans have experienced during most of our country’s existence. When we use the word collective, we are acknowledging that this is important to all of us as a group. It is important for our students of color to know the history of their people. It is important and relevant for our white students to know that people of color have made valuable contributions to our history and culture. As a high school student, we often can recall learning about the Dust Bowl and the Gold Rush, but nothing about the Great Migration. The Great Migration included the relocation of more than 6 million African Americans, which is more than the Dust Bowl and the Gold Rush migrations combined, affecting the history and culture of our country.
The National theme for Black History Month this year is Black Migration. We would like to encourage you to take time personally to learn about this time era. During this time, as previously stated, 6 million African Americans migrated from the rural south to the industrial north. In an attempt to escape Jim Crow laws, many African American families relocated to the Northeast, hoping for better jobs and better schooling opportunities for themselves and their children. This moment in history brought about great change in poetry, politics, and the arts, and changed the demographics of America.
We would like to encourage every single school, no matter the demographics, to make changes to their curriculum, their media, and books so that all children are being educated that people of color have had important and encompassing impact to American history and life. Implicit bias starts early in young children and erasure of black history devalues the contributions that young children in our communities are capable of. Our main goal is to increase awareness of the contributions that African Americans have made throughout American history. We hope that this includes instruction and learning about the Great Migration along with the Dust Bowl Era, that students are also learning about the women behind the success of the space race along with the first astronauts in space. Other important contributions we hope that students learn about are the heroic actions of Robert Smalls along with other African American civil war heroes. Again, teaching about and celebrating the history of Black people in America isn’t just for Black students, it is for all students.
These are some actions we would like to see implemented during Black History Month, in hopes of a more inclusive curriculum in the future.
- Books with children and adults of color represented in libraries.
- Curriculum included in this letter being taught to all students.
- Bulletin Board displayed in a commons area celebrating important African American Contributions.
- Teachers and principals are encouraged to read a book about the Great Migration Era to benefit their own knowledge and expose them to other cultures and bring down some of the barriers and bias’s they may have that they don’t realize. The Warmth Of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilkerson, or The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, by Ayana Mathis are two examples.
We appreciate your efforts and consideration in teaching about this important part of Americana. This is a benefit to all the children in our communities. Resources can be found at asalh.org (the website for National Black History Month)
Children’s Equity League
(you can copy and paste into an email or word document to print off:)
- Share these lesson plans with your principal and encourage her/him to encourage teachers to teach the lesson plans. The National theme for Black History Month this year is The Black Migration. We planned these lessons to teach students about that wonderful time era in American history. FYI: These lessons are best viewed on a computer and opened “with power point”
- Print off this book list and encourage principals/librarian to purchase a few of the books as well as display books showcasing kids of color on the cover.
- Ask your principal if you can put up a bulletin board showcasing important people in African American History. Here are a few easy options you can just order from Amazon:
- Purchase this book for your principal and encourage her/him to read one of historical facts each day during the morning announcements.
- Come to our family night! It is March 6th at 6:30 pm at the Bountiful Library. We have a few presenters coming and I know that it will be a great night! We would love to see you there!