Monday, February 16, 2009

Do We Need Black History Month?


The below posting was found on the Teacher Magazine blog in a discussion called, "Is Black History Month Outdated?"and was posted 2/10/2009.

“Claims that African-American history month is no longer constructive are growing, according to a recent Associated Press story. Critics, pointing to shifts in American culture, say its observance in schools is ‘paternalistic’ and potentially divisive. Others, however, contend that it is still needed ‘to solidify and build upon America's racial gains.’ What do you think? Does the month-long celebration discourage or encourage separatism? Does it disrupt the curriculum? Would the teaching of African-American history be more effective if it were incorporated into the curriculum year-round? How are you incorporating it into your instruction this year?”

To read the discussion, click here:
Image from http://www.paterson.k12.nj.us/

Do you think Black History Month is relevant today? Post your comments.

8 comments:

gretchen said...

Years ago I helped design the curriculum at my school for the History Dept. What the faculty decided was that we should not pull anything out of the core-- we taught a 4 year Global History, keeping all matters in the time period. We taught about the importance of African American accomplishments at the time period in which they occurred. I.E.Civil War, Civil Rights Movement, MLk jr. etc. it just seemed to make sense, and the students really liked it. We were able to do a lot of collaboration this way with other dept. creating almost a humanities dept. rather than a SS dept. I think it is time to stop separating-- inclusion.

Kim said...

I agree with teaching the history of all people in the context of the time periods in which they occured as Gretchen wrote. As teachers, it is our responsibility to make sure we teach about all groups and races that make up America fairly. I taught in a school that was about 98% African American and we did make a big deal about Black History Month, but I think we did a good job of recognizing the history/accomplishments of all races throughout the year. I never really thought that having a Black History month would be encouraging separatism, but maybe it is...

Elsa Crowley said...

To think that Black History month would be encouraging separatism is an interesting thought. It is important to teach everyone's history. Omitting certain histories is terrible. America is a melting pot, and it is necessary to create a curriculum that is such, so that all students, their cultures, and their races are included. Gretchen put it very well. We must "stop separating--inclusion."

Diane said...

I agree with all of you. Recognizing, accepting and appreciating the diverse make up of our country is what makes our country what it is. To single out recognition of say just African Americans for a month might have been crucial many years ago but this country has made so many advances that it is time to recognize all races and nationalities. And as Gretchen points out, if history is taught the right way, students have an opportunity to learn about how races have impacted this country rather than just recognizing the race for a month every year.

Kathy V. said...

Being a History teacher myself, I do believe we should change the focus of Black History month. I think we should create a time when all cultures should be appreciated and their historical backgrounds should at the fore front. The unique accomplishments of all races should be known and enlighten all of our lives. We are a melting pot more than ever and we need to become intertwined with each other. When you just celebrate Latinos or any other group of people, you separate them more, rather than try to have people work together more harmoniously. We need each other to make this world a better place. I think if each person had a time when they researched their own background then shared it with others with different cultural backgrounds, we would have many more common bonds. Let each culture learn about their shining stars, both people and happenings, and have students exchange what they have learned and compare how many things they truly have in common. I believe our president is looking for all of us to work together as a nation, not any one culture.

travis said...

How did I miss this? Well I absolutely think black history month is needed. Students in general and my students in particular are out of touch with history and because history is written by the powerful, the meek are often under represented. Take an informal poll if you disagree with me. Many of your students will know who Jackie Robinson or Rosa Parks are but, how many of your students know who Fredrick Douglas, W.E.B. Du bios, Edgar Mevers, or Thurgood Marshall are? For that matter do they know any contemporary black social leaders are such as Tavis Smiley or Cornell West? We most definitely black history month because we have not come far enough; Obama is just a start. I believe to understand American history, you have to understand Black history. I think the plight of a downtrodden people that are still rising deserves our attention for a month, after-all it is a lesson that we can all learn from.

Claudine said...

As a future teacher, I plan to integrate all different ethnic groups into my curriculum. I have a passions for learning about people and their culture so it will be my goal to find literary pieces that involve learning about other cultures. I think we need Black History Month to force some districts to acknowledge the contributions that African American people made in this country. However, I also beleive we need Women's history and Hispanic Heritage month as well. Even though we have Black History Month there are still a lot of students who cannot identify African Americans other than Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks. I think these months are important for students of color so that they can see that their ancestors made a lot of contributions and sacrifices so that they could live the life that they do now. During student teaching, I took the time to teach my students the importance of Women's history month. I told the females in the class that we owed a lot to the women who came before us because they made it possible for us to even be in the classroom. In a perfect world, we would have literature in our curriculum that includes every race so that we would not have to designate a particular month, but our world is not perfect so we still need Black History Month.

D Desrosiers said...

I highly doubt that Black History Month encourages separatism. It's designed to promote inclusion in a curriculum that is otherwise a whitewash of American history and literature. It would be nice if we could truly say that we've gotten to a point in our development as a nation that we've surmounted the issue of race as a major factor in our personal and social identity. I think that it's a convenience to tell ourselves that Black History Month is drives a wedge between us because if we succeed in that we don't have to address racism anymore, or black poverty, or any other number of issues. And that just touches the tip of the iceberg when we talk about colonizing a people.

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