Traditional history classes focus on what is considered the most significant American history- unfortunately, most “significant history” revolves around exclusively white figures. African American historical figures and issues are really only discussed during lessons on slavery and the civil rights movement, causing in-depth discussions about Black history to be a novelty. This creates a very one- dimensional education. Without knowledge of cultures and history outside of white America, young people are growing up not only being subconciously told that white people have simultaniously shaped the past, but also not being given the opportunity to learn every side of history.
It seems as if the American education system has not actually progressed with modern times when it comes to their coverage of black historical figures. These figures, while absolutely deserving of lessons, are exclusively abolitionists and civil right’s leaders. In between lessons on slavery and segregation, however, it is as if America had no varying racial groups. In my 11 years of public school history classes, I can soundly say that we have hardly learned about any other historic figures outside of white people between the civil war and the civil rights movement.
This commonality then denies minority students any chance of learning about their own culture’s history in America, almost to the point of labelling the discussions taboo. Without prioritizing the study of non-white historical figures in typical history classes, it should be vital that additional history classes devoted to the subject are offered.
African American history classes would at the very least give the option and opportunity to expand a student’s knowledge of not only other sides of American history, but other cultural group’s history as well. It would then provide the students’ who rarely learn about the history of their own race the fair opportunity to do so.
My personal interest in this subject peeked when my high school stopped offering it’s African American studies program at the end of last school year. Because of a change in our underclassmen history classes and a lack of sign ups for the course, it was more difficult to offer the class. The lack of initial enthusiam in the class was sad, but the upset from a few of the students who had intended to take it was eye opening. A class that offers the rare opportunity to learn about a too-often skimmed over subject such as the history of significant African Americans should not only be offered as a course in public schools- but prioritized and encouraged.