by G. Brown
Black History Month…it’s explained in the title. A month to learn about the contributions that Blacks have made to civilization from inventions to the arts and everything in between.
So why did a Neighborhood Learning Center outside of Atlanta feature this display and rename the observance, American History Month. The display featured the familiar faces of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., President Barack Obama along with George Washington, Jimmy Carter and Walt Disney?!
A four-year old (not kidding A 4-YEAR OLD!) basically questioned the renaming from Black History Month to American History Month and was said to be punished for having the audacity to question the adults. So now, the child’s mom, Kendra Molden, comes into the story. Molden posted the display and story on Facebook and the rest as they say is history. The post went viral and the teacher responsible for the display explained, “The door states ‘Celebrating American History.’ Pre K has guide lines that must be followed and news flash, Abraham Lincoln freed black people. Go study your history! We are in a diverse learning institution and we do not discriminate.” The teacher punctuated her post with this admonishment, ““Don’t let ya mouth write you a check that you can’t cash.”—WELL!
The mom’s post immediately drew the support of others….
And there were those who saw the mom’s post as part of the problem…
The school obviously agreed with the last poster. After Molden posted the story to Facebook, her son was in effect expelled from the Neighborhood Learning Center and will not be allowed back in.
Now, if the teacher behind the display was White, it would kind of be expected. But the teacher who wanted to create a more harmonious atmosphere (according to her response) happens to be Black…which brings us to the question of ‘is she right?’ Is Black History Month even relevant anymore?
That’s a question national newspaper USATODAY asked a couple of years ago. And just like with Molden’s FB post, the answers fell both for and against. Many views agreed with the teacher’s that history does not belong to one race of people—but to all Americans.
Others argue that Black History wasn’t…and isn’t being taught in public schools which is why Black History Month even exists. If the history of all that Blacks have done for America as Americans were included in our educational curriculum then there would be no need for the month.
It’s only during Black History Month when children learn that part of American history through plays, special programs and displays. Even many adults are not aware of all that Blacks have done from helping to build the White House to the number of Presidents before Obama who were considered Black. And once Black History ends, so does the conversation of Blacks and their historical contributions.
In response to that teacher, yes Abraham Lincoln did sign the Emancipation Proclamation which freed slaves—but not all of them. The measure was taken as a military strategy to end the Civil War, not a human rights issue. It was a way to undermine the Confederacy and build up the Union. Even though Lincoln was said to hate slavery, he didn’t believe that Blacks should have the same rights as Whites and said during debates that he was opposed to giving Blacks the right to vote, to serve as jurors or to intermarry with Whites.
It’s nice ideology that if we did away with Black History Month, the schools will extend the knowledge shared in one short month to an entire school year. But we’ve been observing Black History Month since 1926 when it began as Negro History Week..and that hasn’t happened yet?
What do you think….is Black History Month no longer relevant? Or is setting aside a month the only way young people (and adults) can learn anything about the contributions Blacks have made and are making to civilization?