We would not need to have a Black History Month each February if America had been committed to telling the truth about its own history from the very beginning. Think about it.
Each year the stories we examine in February are the stories that were deliberately excluded from the history books. Black History Month is the logical consequence of the suppression and exclusion of Black Americans from American History.
You can see how uncomfortable telling the truth about American History makes some people by how hard they are still fighting to keep it from being told. Yes, we can look with horror upon what is happening in Florida but I’ve seen that line of thinking expressed by people who live right here in Howard County.
As we look at what has been happening in other states it’s clear that local government, state legislatures, and school boards are hugely important. If we believe that America must include everyone and tell the truth about itself (past and present) then we have to elect people to these offices who believe and will consistently support that.
It’s not a side issue. It’s something which is at the core of American Democracy which has long been betrayed. It’s hard to hear that. It’s hard to face that. Especially since most of us did not learn these things in school. Yet we talk all the time to our kids about how important it is to learn from our mistakes. And I suspect that we have all had life experiences that have proved that, time and again. Then why the denial when it comes to America’s past?
The idea that some parts our of history must be excluded from our history curriculums should be disqualifying for anyone who wishes to serve on a board of education. Yet, around the country, we see school boards espousing that point of view and using it to shape educational policies.
In Columbia/HoCo you won’t necessarily see people say that outright. They use code words and talk about “what parents want” or “political indoctrination”. They warn about the evils of “CRT” without even knowing what it is. Political candidates, even those who are running for the Board of Education, work very hard to present a polished image. It can be difficult to ascertain where they truly stand on issues like this.
It’s incredibly important to find out.
This post was supposed to be a roundup of Black History Month events in our community. I will be doing that tomorrow instead. But I was so distraught yesterday listening to “Ron DeSantis and the battle over Black history” on NPR’s 1A that it changed my focus for today’s piece. Added to that was an extremely concerning online discussion I saw about HoCo BOE Christina Delmont-Small’s resignation and the appointment process to fill her position.
Underlying both are the questions: who will be valued? Who has a voice?
There’s always more to learn during Black History Month and beyond. But yesterday I was struck by how important it is for us to keep an eye on what’s happening - - right in this moment - - that is actively endangering our freedoms, the education of our children, and the future of our democracy.
Former President Barack Obama posted this to his social media accounts yesterday:
Black History Month shouldn’t be treated as though it is somehow separate from our collective American history—or boiled down to a compilation of greatest hits. This month should be more than just a commemoration of particular events. It’s about the shared experience of all Black Americans, high and low, famous and obscure, whose lives have shaped, challenged, and ultimately strengthened America. It’s about taking an unvarnished look at the past so we can create a better future. It’s a reminder of where we as a country have been so that we know where we need to go.
That’s it, right there. Don’t miss the message.
It’s about taking an unvarnished look at the past so we can create a better future. It’s a reminder of where we as a country have been so that we know where we need to go.
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