Black History in America

Black History in America

February 1, 2021 Uncategorized 51

Reflect on what you have learned in school about Black history in this country. Has your view of our country’s history changed in light of recent current events? How and why? What are your thoughts on the ways in which Black history is portrayed and taught? What/who is being left out when having these conversations in the classroom? What can be done to improve this?

51 Responses

  1. Mara Golden says:

    Growing up, Black History Month was always recognized but I never felt like there was much talked about. In elementary school, there may have been a quote read by Martin Luther King Jr. or by Rosa Parks but my school never really expanded beyond certain people. It was not until middle school that I learned about Ruby Bridges and her vast amounts of bravery and it was not until high school until I really knew a great deal about Malcolm X. Within the last year I can defiantly say I have learned a great deal about our countries history. In light of recent events, I have learned even though we live in different times, people of color are still discriminated against. These discriminations lie in their right to vote, economic wealth, and many other areas. Schools do not do enough to educate their students on our history and all of our country’s faults. We may be the land of the free but not everyone is treated with equality. The best way to improve this is to talk about it. This should not be a conversation to shy away from. The more people know growing up, hopefully, the less likely it will be for history to keep repeating itself.

  2. Ecli Vazquez says:

    When it comes to Black History Month I have learned a lot when I was young and how important the people that are honored truly are. The sad part this the only time everyone good deeds are ever mentioned. I wish it was something that revolves around all the time. With the reason events a person can how all the dark emotions are just swept under the rug instead of being outspoken. I’m glad it’s come to light because too many people think all these emotions disappeared and that people of color are given the same opportunities.

  3. Sydney Maughan says:

    I have learned in school the basics of Black history, such as about slavery and the fight for civil rights but I learned most about Black history outside of the classroom. I was aware that our country was still facing racism before recent events, but it has become much more clear how serious these issues are. While I was aware racism did exist in America I didn’t know to what degree and what I learned in the classroom did nothing to help. I feel Black history; racism and inequalities faced, is usually taught to be focused in the past and we’re not taught much about current events. What can be done to improve these things is learning more about current events in our history, as well as learning more about the past and present of all minorities. It is very important to learn from more than one point of view on an issue. Most importantly though, I think schools don’t have more discussions about current events concerning race is because teachers want to be able to control the discussion and avoid any arguments or tension in the classroom. While what’s going on in current events is a difficult conversation, it is still a conversation worth having and if teachers were taught how to facilitate and lead these discussions it would be much more beneficial to the students.

  4. Nia Colon says:

    One of the most influential woman in my life is my mom. She is such a strong person and have shaped me into the person I am today. She has inspired me because through all of our hardships she made sure to remain strong for me. She also raised me on her own and gave me some of the best opportunities. I aspire to be like her one day.

  5. Julia Fleming says:

    In high school I took American History and briefly learned about the violence and abuse African Americans endured during slavery and after the Civil War. I learned about prominent Black leaders including abolitionists and civil rights activists. However, the information I learned in High School did not provide a full account of the challenges, injustices, successes, etc. that African Americans faced/experienced. In particular, I noticed a lack of information regarding female African American leaders and citizens. In addition, the textbooks I utilized in class barely covered current black history. In order to improve this, I think that schools should update their curriculum to highlight the role of African American females throughout history. I also think that schools should connect current events to the injustices black Americans have faced for centuries. Black history is complex and it seems that only a select few events and people are included in textbooks. Schools must tell the whole story. Current events have reiterated the fact that African Americans today and throughout history, have faced violence, injustice, and inequality. Their history in the making must be documented and shared.

  6. Erin Spence says:

    Looking back on the information that I have learned about Black history in school, it is clear that many perspectives and events have been left out. The majority of Black history in schools focuses on slavery. While this is an important topic to focus on within Black history, it also guides the curriculum in a very specific direction and labels Black history as having only one story line. These stories are also taught in a way that masks the truth in many ways. In high school, I was very unaware of the changes that needed to be made within the lessons that I was learning. The narratives that are included in history are very heavily focused on White narratives. Our academic have been white washed. It is not only important to focus on Black people and their experiences through history, but it is also important to understand that history is continuing to repeat itself even after the abolition of slavery. Although slavery is illegal in the US, the effects of it still exist. Systemic racism continues to plague our society, but this is rarely spoken of in history classes. Many students are led to believe that the struggles and suffering of the Black community ended with slavery, unaware of the inequity that is faced by people of color every day. This past year has been crucial in bringing to light so many of these injustices. Stories of police brutality, medical racism, and so many others have come to the forefront of the issues in America, and more people are becoming educated on the systemic issues that still exist in our society. I think the best way to improve the history that is taught in schools would be to bring to light more of the stories of so many people of color that have made history, but that are rarely shared. Black history is American history, and all schools must work to bring more of that history into the classroom.
    (apologies for the late response. the power went out last night as I was writing and I didn’t have a chance to submit until this moring)

  7. Marykate Del Gais says:

    Over the course of my educational career Black history has been discussed and taught within the classroom. I learned a lot of information from the courses that I took while growing up. While I do not think the history itself has changed, people’s perception of the history has altered, as the recent events in the world have caused historic issues to resurface. The respect towards Black history has grown especially over the past years. I think the information learned in the classroom growing up is a sufficient way to talk about Black history, however with the recent events that have happened it is important to educate students on up to date information.

  8. Kiara Woodward says:

    I don’t remember a distinct focus on black history in my schooling. My view of our country’s history has not changed. I feel as if that I have been aware for a while of the white washing of history. The phrase history is told by the winners comes to mind. In this case history is told by those with the most power. Oftentimes, these historical conversations about black history are not led by people of color. The disconnect to the history may play a role in how it is taught. History includes harsh realities that can not be sugar coated to be made easier to swallow. These conversations could be improved by being more honest while taking care of those participating in the conversation. In order for such a conversation to be made possible there need to be individuals capable of facilitating such conversations. Teachers should be trained to teach history that is accurate even if it is upsetting at times while also knowing how to reflect on these conversations.

    • Mara Golden says:

      Kiara, I really liked your point on how to improve conversations. Teachers should be trained to teach students about Black History Month but should also be trained on how to conduct an open and safe place to have these types of conversations in the classroom. The younger we start these conversations the easier they may be to have when they’re older.

  9. Giavanna Pitagno says:

    Throughout my education, Black history- similar to other histories of marginalized communities, had been partially told to tell a specific, “better” story of our country. As my education has advanced, and injustices continue, the hidden aspects of our history have been elevated- good and bad. Contributions made by the Black community have been able to be properly acknowledged and celebrated, while the harmful stereotypes and racist behaviors of our past has began to be untaught. My views of our history have definitely changed since I was younger- not only because of my education, but maturity and exposure to social injustices as a whole. I think that we are moving towards a more just way of portraying our history- not only Black history but the history of all marginalized communities, however there is still major problems with the way the origin of our country is told. The context of our nation is missing from the story. We start every story in history from a privileged and victimized point of view rather than addressing the oppressive nature that caused marginalized communities to act the way they did. The origin of our country stems from breaking away from the unjust treatment of Britain on the colonies- therefore justifying colonists revolt. We empathize with the colonists, because we know the context of the time. However, we portray the anger and upheavals brought on about constant mistreatment as unwarranted- because we are focused on the “prettiest” of our past. In order to improve different conversations, we must begin to implement the missing pieces of our history in the classroom. One main way for this to be improved is to update our textbooks to provide the entire story of our country’s history.

    • Erin Spence says:

      Gia, I definitely agree with your point about our history being from a privileged and victimized point of view. There is very clearly a narrative that is being highlighted, and it continues to suppress much of the truth.

  10. Dana Wakeman says:

    One thing I remember is that, I only learned about a few black people in American history including Rosa Parks, Dr. King, and Harriet Tubman. Furtermore, the education about black Americans is only a selective history, so we only focused on Dr. King’s nonviolent activism rather than his push for raising the miniumum wage and eliminating poverty as these were (and still are) seen as too radical. I think that recent events have shown that we all need to #DoTheWork in order to expand upon what we were taught in school in order to have a greater understanding of the actual history. I think it is also important to ensure that difficult conversations can happen in school by allowing students to speak and discuss the horrible things that the US has done without being labeled as unAmerican. This can be accomplished by training teachers to facilitate conversations and changing the curriculum in schools so it is reflective of history that goes beyond action taken by white men.

  11. Stephanie Da Fonseca says:

    When learning about black history, I mainly remember Martin Luther King Jr., Slavery, the Civil rights movement and etc, but all of these things were loosely taught. In light of recent events happening in our country I was able to learn and educate myself on topics that my “bubble” had not exposed me to, hideous occurrences that happen every single day. I now see that our system is broken and that we don’t live in a free country with an American Dream, we live in a country rigged to only work for a select few, to benefit the 1% and to discriminate and push back the oppressed.
    I believe black history is overlooked and skimmed most of the time in classrooms, teaching only the essentials and the generation of educators who do not own up to the damage that that generation did. Most of the time we only talk about slavery and how they picked cotton and things of the sort but never the horrific things that are occulted such as even cannibalism ( The curriculum of these classes most of the time are being created by white educators who have no training and education in the matter, which does not make sense because we would never ask an english professor to write the mathematics curriculum because we know he will not be thorough and extensive in his work and would most likely miss something, even if by accident. We need more black educators and for them to develop a curriculum, lead trainings for the teachers/professors who will be teaching. This curriculum isn’t just a story on a piece of paper, this is something that only ended 150 years ago and the ripple effects of racism and oppression still linger our current generation and even held office for a term. Education is the only way to make a change and to make sure the following generations will not have to deal with our ancestors mistakes.

  12. Maura Lynch says:

    In grade school, I learned the usual lessons about MLK Jr. and slavery. In high school, I learned about slavery again, with added lessons about the Civil Rights Movement in the 60s. The main issue, I felt, in my education about black history, is that it was taught as history. I was taught that racism was over and everyone is now equal. The reality, however, is that we are being taught from the same books that people learned from 20 years ago. 20 years ago was a time that would push down what black people have to say about their own history. Today- although there are still those who try to silence black people-black people are pushing back and making sure their voices are heard. Since coming to college, I’ve learned so much more about black culture and history and, for the first time, I’m being taught that it is much more than oppression. Black people built this country and it is time their contributions are recognized.

    • Mara Golden says:

      Maura, you made a great point about racism being taught as history and not as an ongoing event. Even though it may not be as prominent these days it still exists and children should be educated from a young age to see the injustices people face every day!

  13. Tori Mangelli says:

    Similar to what other Bonners have been saying is that before this program I was not taught a lot about Black history except for the basic facts of the Civil Rights movement, Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X. I think this signifies a major issue in the education system and students deserve to know more about Black history beyond slavery and fighting for rights. They should also teach us about Black culture and traditions just like we have learned for other ethnicities. Students of color may feel left out or confused because they were never taught about their cultural importance in school. This has also definitely become bigger in 2020 as it is apparent we are fighting a very important fight against racial discrimination.

  14. Ecli Vazquez says:

    Black History month is used to showcase and honor fellow African Americans that had a positive impact on Black culture and community. Within the recent years I feel that the month of February became a lot more stronger as the Black community started to face those that wanted to bring them down. These actions were seen just last year. For me Black history month is thought as a way to honor all the Black people that helped their communities that either had a big or small impact.

  15. Lulama Nyembe says:

    As someone who was not exposed much to the American school system prior to college, I have not had much experience with the way in which Black history is taught in schools. Before attending Siena I was not aware that February was Black History Month, nor did I fully understand what that meant when I was made aware of this. In light of recent current events, my view of the country’s history has not changed. The changing point for me came when confederate statues were being called into question and from looking at the conversation around whether or not to do away with them. Looking at all the different viewpoints on the matter, I realized that there is a somewhat glamorized view of American history. This view does not fully recognize the darker parts of the country’s history which, in large part, negatively affected different groups.

    I think the way in which black history is taught only forms a small part of a curriculum. By only designating February to cover black authors or black history in a curriculum it makes it such that the only time to talk about black history is during black history month. In that way, it does not become an active part of American history but rather a small part of American history that did not contribute a great deal to the make-up of the country today. By not acknowledging this fact, it makes it easier to gloss over various issues that arise from systemic racism because they are not brought to the forefront as being forms of systemic racism.

    Since these conversations are not constantly taking place in the classroom, there aren’t any organic conversations surrounding them. Instead, it is then up to the group in question to be the ones who are most vocal and knowledgeable about black history when it does eventually crop up into the curriculum. By initiating conversations surrounding black history frequently and in conjunction with other parts of history that involve all the diverse groups that make up the country, these conversations will become commonplace. Thus making it easier to address some of the past injustices that have occurred and recognize the long-term impacts in our world today.

  16. Kayla McKay says:

    In middle and high school, Black history month was mentioned but not celebrated nor talked about in-depth. Every year on February 1st, the school would acknowledge that it was Black history month but after that, there was not really any extra attention on the month. Black history month was not celebrated in my school systems because I went to a predominantly white school and there was little to no black and/or people of color. When Black History month was mentioned the only extra information and/ or history that mentioned was about Martin Luther King or Rosa Parks. Their stories are very important to Black history, but the school system made it seem like they were the only ones that contributed to the Civil Rights Movement, Black success, and Black excellence. There was a lack of knowledge to inform students on how important Black History Month is and how relevant it is to talk about the history.

    From the current events that have taken place recently, our country has opened its eyes to the racial disparities Black Americans face but we have only knocked a tip of the iceberg. From the current events that happened last summer, I think it forced a lot of people to open their eyes about police brutality and how there needs to be reform in the system. It has opened up many people’s eyes to their own privileges and how they can be an ally to the Black community. Not only are people realizing that racism is a big thing in our country, but they are also realizing that being anti-racist isn’t enough anymore. For an actual change, more and more people have started to listen to Black voices and hear their stories while also educating themselves to become a better ally to the community.

    In my personal experience, Black History is not taught enough. School systems tend to talk a lot about slavery and the horrors of it but repeat the same thing every year. They also do not even address some issues about slavery that are hidden such as topics like alligator babies, the zoos African Americans were put in, or even how some words derived like “picnic”. All this is not addressed in the school systems and deserved to be acknowledged. The untold stories and untold names of many African Americans deserve recognition because this is a way to hold our country accountable for its past. Understanding the past will make the process of change more susceptible to happen because then we know the root of the problem. Problems that are very well known such as medical racism, stem from situations in the past were African American women were abused and used for surgical procedures, without anesthetics. From this, comes assumptions that “African Americans can’t feel pain.” This is all more reason to acknowledge and learn from black history to then apply it to our present.

    Something small that could be done on campus is to have FYSM professors include a Black history month lesson for a lecture or two that relates to their themes of the class. This would inform students that Black history month is more than just a month.

  17. Elizabeth MacMurray says:

    In elementary school, Black history was a rare topic of conversation that was held in the classroom. Once I changed schools, this was changed. My middle schools and high school celebrated all lives in a way I rarely saw in a school environment. Especially in high school, I was lucky enough to learn about many different cultures and religions through yearly school field trips and different events my school held. Even though my school discussed Black history, I still feel like part of the conversation was still missing. White history still seemed to dominate and some classes made it seem like almost an obligation to discuss rather than an important part of history to address. Many teachers would do a general description of Black history but never seemed to go in-depth a whole lot. But comparing my high school classes to my elementary school classes, I was really lucky to learn the amount of Black history that I did. More schools should create specific classes for Black history or incorporate it more in American History classes more. So many Black people have created and/or contributed to important foundations of our history. This is one of the many reasons why more diverse topics need to be taught in all schools.

  18. Michelle Villa says:

    My school rarely went over Black History Month, and it wasn’t even mentioned in our daily announcements before the first bell. Attending a predominantly white school, I felt like we didn’t have a diverse education and skimmed past important information regarding to Black History Month. I feel like my AP United States History class was one of my classes that taught us about Jim Crow Laws, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and slavery. Even when we learned about slavery, I felt like it was skimmed over, and the only time we learned more was watching a movie called Twelve Years of Slave. It was an extra credit assignment that we watched late at night, so most students didn’t pay attention. It’s an issue that schools are skimming over Black History Month and should start bringing diversity in education. I felt like we only focused on important White historical figures and barely talked about Black People who made a huge impact in America’s progress. For example, I never learned about Katherine Johnson at school and only heard about her from a movie we watched in a summer program I was in. It’s disappointing that we don’t even acknowledge her in my school’s education and how critical her role is in NASA. In order to improve education in schools regarding Black History Month, we should stop sugar-coating racial injustices and slavery. Having a unit based on Black History Month will give students time to learn. Also, we shouldn’t have optional events to learn more about history that was missed out and make them mandatory to learn in class.

    • Erin Spence says:

      Michelle, I love your idea about having a Black History Month unit implemented in schools. As you said, this is something that is so rarely celebrated in schools, and I think that would be such a great way to integrate Black history into the curriculum and bring to light the racial injustices that have been hidden.

    • Mara Golden says:

      Michelle, I loved your post and totally agree with you! Being a part of this program has educated me on many of the social justice issues that were skimmed over in school.

  19. Sydney Maughan says:

    Through my past years in the Bonner Program I have learned so much about Black history in this country. My view of our country’s history hasn’t necessarily changed in light of recent events, but I can see things more clearly now then. In light of the recent events it has become much more clear that action needs to be made for equality among people of all colors and backgrounds. My thoughts on the ways is Black history is portrayed and taught are that throughout elementary school to college, teachers portray Black prejudice and issues the black community face to be in the past. I think teachers should be actively discussing what goes on in our country and how current events affect the Black community. To improve this, I think that history books should be updated and include more detail on Black history and the issues they had and have face in society. I also think books that are read and discussed in English classes should be updated and have more variety in authors, not just old white men.

  20. Samantha Lunt says:

    Looking back I do not remember learning a lot about Black history and if it was discussed it was very surface level. It was always just what little bit needed to be covered in the textbook and learning about the work of Martin Luther King Jr., and Rosa Parks. Since coming to Siena and being in Bonner I have a much wider view and understanding of our country’s history. From having deeper conversations, I have been able to educate myself on what is going on in our country and recognizing that I still have a lot more learning to do. I think that Black history needs to become more apart of the curriculum taught in classes starting at a young age so that understanding of our country’s history doesn’t come later in life. I think the deeper conversations need to be had and trainings like #DoTheWork are a great tool to be able to continue to educate ourselves.

    • Erin Spence says:

      I love that you mentioned that you still have a lot to learn, and I completely agree. I do too. And that’s exactly what this space and this program are for!

  21. Alexis D'Aloia says:

    During my schooling throughout life, I definitely did not receive the full picture of history . Issues were talked about lightly and we did not go in depth on the severity of racism and inequality in this country. It was just like another task to check off the list of things to learn, and when we did learn about it, it was solely during Black History Month and then not really discussed again until the next year. My view of our country’s history has changed in light of recent current events as I have been able to dive deeper into educating myself about the reality of the world. Being in Bonner as well as through classes I have taken here, I have been equipped to better understand history and the severity of what is happening today. It is not sugar coated for me anymore. It seems that black history is being taught poorly in our education systems and this needs to change. There needs to be real, authentic discussion and understanding of black history and how we can work to be anti racist in society, rather than reading a textbook from the white perspective and calling it a day. This is on everyone to work towards, and we all need to be willing to put in the work for it. There is ALWAYS more to learn and understand!

  22. Mara Golden says:

    Throughout my childhood, I truly only remember talking about Black history during the month of February. Even though we talked about Black history it was always the same three people and only lasted one or two days in class. There was never a bigger discussion about any of it. Looking back now it feels like a lot of my teachers did their best to get the topic out of the way. I honestly wish they didn’t because when the Black Lives Matter Movent began in early 2020 I felt so uneducated. I was always taught about the work Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and Ruby Bridges did but it was not until recently that I learned more about Black history. I have mostly learned from my fellow Bonners and watching the news but I wish there were more ways. Crucial topics such as this one need time and space in all classrooms. I was surprised in the fall semester that the Black Lives Matter Movement was not discussed in any of my classes. There was no current social education happening, it was all about the curriculum. I can understand professors not wanting class to get off track but they should have their students make connections from the material to what is happening today. I think it should be apart of Siena’s requirement for classrooms to integrate social injustices into their school work. We should be educating ourselves and each other on important topics. I have learned so much about racial injustice over the past year and I still have so much more to learn, just like everyone else.

  23. Marlie says:

    Looking back at my elementary, middle, and high school education, there was little discussion about Black history. The only time I can remember learning about it was during Black History Month, memorable dates, or the few paragraphs, maybe a chapter, about the Civil Rights Movement. I do not believe that my view of this country’s history has changed in recent events, but I do believe that more people are acknowledging the history of the country. When having conversations in classrooms, I feel that one of two things generally happens. The first is that it gets quickly brushed over and little time is spent on the history. The second is that people of color are expected to represent the opinions of all people of color. In doing additional research such as #DoTheWork, watching documentaries, and reading articles about disparities in education and healthcare, I have educated myself in many more ways than what I was ever taught in school. Individuals who are in a position of privilege need to take the time to learn about Black History in full. There is so much more to learn and so much more listening to be done.

  24. Amanda Molloy says:

    During most of high school we stuck to very surface level and basic information about Black history typically confined only to the month of February when celebrating Black History Month. My final year of high school each student did a project on an influential Black person whether that be in the realm of pop culture, literature, science, mathematics or medicine and presented it. This helped me to learn about people and things I was unfamiliar with before but my scope of Black history was still very limited until recently. With recent events in our country I have learned a lot more about Black history and have been able to shift my perspective with learning more about Black culture, white privilege and oppression Black people have had to experience. This has made me realize that what we learn in school is so minimal and needs to be expanded to include much more information on Black history. I think that people of color educators and administrators need to be included more in the making of curriculum in schools and other educators need to go through trainings or workshops to unlearn white washed teaching and learn how to integrate all cultures and histories in school teaching.

  25. Jonathan Limey says:

    Before Siena and specifically #DotheWork, I learned very little about Black History. Elementary and Middle school covered very little about the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King Jr., and Jim Crow laws. High school gave me some more info about the history of slaves in America and the awful discrimination that occurred in the United States. However, it was not until #DotheWork that I learned about the history of black people as well as their culture. This is a key issue. My knowledge of an entire culture took years to even begin, due to a lack of it being taught to me throughout my life. I’m eternally grateful to #DotheWork for the education I received.

    The country’s recent events have caused me to really look back and wish I learned more earlier in my life. It’s important to learn about Black Americans’ history and culture because they are apart of our community. It would allow for a more equal world if all children learned about all people. Not only that, but it would help with the discrimination that is in our country by removing stereotypes and misconceptions from schools. Hopefully, all people can be taught to not use those insulting preconceptions.

    • Alexis D'Aloia says:

      So glad #DotheWork was beneficial for you! It’s great that we were able to do this and we should definitely keep spreading the work so others can get involved and educate themselves as well.

  26. I remember throughout elementary and high school, I only learned about Jim Crow, segregation, and MLK Jr. only during Black History Month. I felt like my teachers only converted it because it was deemed necessary in the curriculum when they should have been passionate about speaking and trying to inform their students. I do not recall learning about the numerous innovation that the black community has contributed throughout the decades- only about the negative aspects. This past year has brought more light onto the black community and shown me how outdated and whitewashed the textbooks were. I have taken time to read books by black authors, music, and watch documentaries. I know that when I was in school, all the innovations and contributions were made to seem as though they were only by white people which is certainly not the case. I think everything starts with education and that begins at a young age. All schools need to be expanding their curriculum outside these textbooks and show all students that black history matters. Teachers are the foundation of young minds and they are what can change the direction and negative connotation of how black history is portrayed. Furthermore, I think this history needs to be outside the classroom. Perhaps movies can be shown once a week during black history month and even have the principal gather the school to hear speeches or comments from the black members of the community. We need to amplify black voices and I think in the past, at least in my K-12 education, it has been white individuals speaking about the topic.

  27. Jack McKenna says:

    Reflect on what you have learned in school about Black history in this country. Has your view of our country’s history changed in light of recent current events? How and why? What are your thoughts on the ways in which Black history is portrayed and taught? What/who is being left out when having these conversations in the classroom? What can be done to improve this?

    Looking back I don’t recall a lot being done at my high school for Black history month. At most I think some teachers would mention it in a lecture if/when discussing certain history or literature, but it was reduced to just a passing mention. Thinking about it now, and how small my rural town was, I’m not surprised, but I am disappointed. Unfortunately it’s more of the same in college. If it wasn’t for this program, I might not have even noticed it was Black History month. The main thing that changed my views wasn’t school, it was social media and certain news outlets. Not CNN or Fox or anything, but social media accounts that focus on activism, education, and awareness of various social justice topics. And I know a lot of people who don’t follow these accounts or pay attention to any news, so I wonder where most of their information comes from. It’s disappointing to see so much great information, specifically about Black history in America, get passed along. I think a very simple solution is to just incorporate a lesson or two into every freshman seminar class- something everyone takes. I mean personally I’ve never been given any lectures or presentations on Black history outside of Bonner, so for people not in this program, I just assume they are just going off what their high school history classes taught them about Black history in America. Which we all know is very superficial and one sided, borderline propaganda. This isn’t an easy issue to fix in school. The information is out there, people just need to want it and then know where to get it. But lots of people are comfortable not knowing and just living their lives. Then you have one side of the aisle trying to silence them, and the other side giving them a voice but just pretending to do anything about it, or doing the bare minimum, without any lasting change. And we can’t change the schools curriculum until administrators and state officials stop being racist nationalists, and I don’t see how we can achieve that. So I guess best case scenario is we make the hard truth and full truth readily available to people to read and listen to, and let people know that their high school education doesn’t mean much.

  28. Nia Colon says:

    Every year in high school we would have a Black History Month assembly. We would learn about various people throughout the four years. In College, I did not really learn a lot about Black History month, just because my classes did not really relate to it. I think in college it is a bit harder to teach about Black History Month. I think it would be beneficial if there were assemblies held to further educate us.

    • Alexis D'Aloia says:

      Hey Nia! I think there’s definitely something to be said about the fact that it’s harder to get this education during college. This it where core curriculum can come into play and Siena can make it part of our education to being learning about these topics to ensure everyone is getting a well rounded, deepened understanding.

  29. Jackson Regan says:

    Learning about Black History, I was given a light, almost whitewashed version in elementary and middle school, and only recently with George Floyd’s death have I come to understand the way black people are treated in this country by law enforcement relative to white people. That to me is the issue that I feel needs the most immediate response, with a new President in office as well as the ability to move forward and pass new laws to end the corrupt system of qualified immunity that allows Cops time and time again to get away with despicable acts. I am going to be following the George Floyd murder trial, but believe that police mistreatment is one of the many things that need to be taught in school. We must present the facts, not in a way that over-politicizes it, but not in a way that holds back either. We can’t present it from a woke standpoint, but we also can’t worry about offending people who might not want to hear the facts. We need to teach the facts, plain and simple, about how black people have been treated in America. That is what I believe is imperative in terms of improving education here in America as it relates to black history.

  30. Abby Hoekman says:

    Prior to college, the only Black history I was taught was in regards to slavery and bits and pieces of Jim Crow Laws and the Civil Rights movement. Beyond the information that was delivered in the whitewashed textbooks in my predominantly white populated school, Black History was not discussed. The exception to this was always Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, but even the information given about these individuals was limited and generic. My view of our country’s history has changed immensely over the course of my college career where I have been able to learn about Black history and how this history has been left out of educational textbooks.

    In light of recent current events, I have learned much more about critical factors of Black history such as Medical Apartheid and Cultural Appropriation. I found the #Dothework challenge from last semester to be especially helpful in learning about Black history and being able to have an unfiltered realistic view of our nation’s history. Although it was challenging to face the ugly truth of this country’s past and present – it is absolutely necessary to teach the next generation and encourage meaningful discussion and reflection. In order to do so, it is crucial to have a brave space where honest and candid conversations can be had to unpack the many layers of Black history. This can at times be challenging, though I believe if school systems made a dedicated effort to equipping teachers and students for discussions such as these like I have experienced here at Siena, then Black history and its major contributions to our nation’s history can be taught to our younger generations.

    • Dana Wakeman says:

      Abby, you are absolutely right, we need to get comfortable with the uncomfortable.

  31. Nancy Rasmussen says:

    In my school district during Black History Month, we were only taught about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and all his accomplishments. Looking back now, I wish my school had broadened the curriculum so I could have learned about other important black individuals.

    My view of our country’s history has significantly changed in light of the recent/current events surrounding racial injustices. I become extremely disheartened when I look back at events/laws that have targeted black individuals, only to realize that our country has not changed. Black individuals are still treated unfairly, especially by our justice system.

    In my opinion, I think the Black History Month curriculum is extremely limited. I think many important black individuals were left out of what I was taught in school, specifically black women that made substantial contributions to this country’s history. This past break I worked as a substitute teacher at my old middle school. On the last day before break, every class watched the movie, Hidden Figures. This movie brings to light the accomplishments of the amazing, talented African-American women who worked in NASA during the launch of astronaut John Glenn. This was a crucial part of our history, as it turned around the Space Race. I was extremely happy to learn that my old school had broadened its Black History Month curriculum to include black women. With that said, I believe the only way to improve and broaden the Black History Month curriculum is to start with teachers. As a future teacher, I wish to broaden the curriculum to educate my future students.

  32. Rachel Gifford says:

    In high school I learned very little about Black history. At my school all classes were taught for the state tests and we only learned from the textbook. Our textbooks would teach us the basics of Black history, but they ignored talking about individuals and instead just talked about the general Black experience in America. I think my school could have done a lot more to educate us and I have learned a lot more about Black history here at Siena then I did at my high school. My school also didn’t offer classes that talked about Black history instead it was shoved in with everything else in history and it was largely skipped over.
    In light of current events my view of our country’s history has changed. I think that it has made me relook at past historical figures that I saw as heroes and it has made me question whether or not they were actually doing things for the good of others or because it went along with what they wanted to do. I think that we often glorify historical figures, and we don’t recognize that they have committed harmful acts towards Black people.
    I think that Black history needs to be taught in high school apart from regular history courses. At my school they spent about a total of one day talk about black history. Instead, it should be mandatory that we learn about Black history. I think that what is largely left out of the conversations in the classroom is a discussion of Black history today. At school we never talked about racism that is going on today and many of my classes made it seem like everything is equitable and there is equality for everyone. I think talking about current events is vital to the conversation of Black history. I think actually talking about what we see on social media and bringing those conversations into a classroom setting will improve our conversations about Black history.

    • Alexis D'Aloia says:

      This made me think about how sometimes we learn things solely for the sake of taking a test and getting a good grade, rather than actually learning and understanding! And Black history is definitely one of the things that not only gets skipped over, but when it is discussed it seems like just a formality!

  33. Nora Diede says:

    Particularly in High School there was definitely a lack of Black History being taught in the classrooms. While we learned about the Jim Crow Laws and slavery in our history classroom, that was it. I never learned about Black scientists, authors, artists, mathematicians, musicians, policy makers etc. The things that I learned were not in depth and did not include so many Black individuals that I know now have had such a large impact on our world. For example, my high school did not teach about Malcolm X at all, and I have had to learn about so much of the Civil Rights movement outside of the classroom. The current events that have been shaping our news for the past months have definitely changed my view on our country’s history. This is because I have been able to educate myself on the systems that allowed for the injustice and discrimination in our country. While I always knew of the deplorable treatment of Black individuals in the United States I have been able to go into the depth that I never was able to in previous years in school.
    I think that Black History should be a major part of students’ education, as it is a major part of our country’s history. With this, I also think that the current systems that work against Black individuals, such as the incarceration system, should be included in the standard curriculum. So many Black women are not included in the teaching of Black history like Alice Augusta Ball, who was the first person to create an effective treatment for Leprosy. Along with this, many transgender people of color have been left out of history books, like Marsha P Johnson, and Sylvia Rivera, who are responsible for many advancements.
    I strongly believe that there needs to be more teachers of color in our classrooms and schools. I also think that it should not be excusable to disregard Black history in students’ education. This includes giving credit to so many Black people who have made incredible progress in different fields, yet have had their ideas and accomplishments stolen from them by white people.

    • Dana Wakeman says:

      Nora, you bring up a great point, we need to expand the curriculum to include the triumphs of BIPOC in addition to the trauma.

  34. Chandler Edbauer says:

    My views of this country’s history have not changed. I feel like all the recent events happening have been slowly culminating over the past couple of years. I feel like my perception of the recorded facts of history has not changed however my views about how certain communities have been affected has definitely changed. I feel as though Black history is the same as history and history has not changed. I think people have come to respect Black history more and have brought it to the foreground of history but the views of these has not changed. I don’t think that much is being left out when considering what is being taught. Black history is important to America’s development and I feel like I have learned that and was taught the importance. I personally think that if this is happening then they need to update and improve curriculum for students.

  35. Samantha Gisleson says:

    I learned about slavery in America in middle school, high school, and college. However, all lessons about slavery and Black history were much more condensed than that on white history. I do have to say that the history course I took here at Siena did dive much deeper into Black history. I learned about Black historical figures whom I had never heard of before. I feel that my view of this country’s history started to change in high school, as I became more aware of how discriminatory and blatantly racist many Americans were (and unfortunately still are). Now as a college student, I am much less proud of my country’s history than I used to be when I was younger. I think this is mostly because many Americans try to forget about the past or “leave the past in the past” instead of trying to do better and learn from past mistakes and wrongdoings. In light of recent events, I have become even more aware of Black history and the need to increase the amount of Black history being taught in American schools.

    As I mentioned, Black history is often either skipped entirely or just touched upon briefly in many schools around America. Black history needs to be an important topic in history classes within schools of all levels. We need to teach about the past in order to do better in the future.

    As I saw Abeer mentioned above, many teachers in America are white, and therefore do not have the ability to perceieve what it is like to be black in America. People of color need to have their voices hear, and as white allies we need to act as microphones that amplify those voices, not replace them or speak over them. By starting with how Black history is taught in this country, we can begin to learn from our past, better ourselves, and create a future that is much more equal than the world we are living in today.

  36. Ava Bibisi says:

    Previously in grade school and high school, Black history was taught, but it wasn’t until more recent years that I gained a better grasp on what it really means. Select months allowed schools to teach about Black history, but towards the end of high school and especially in college, I realized the importance of Black history and how individuals of color bring so much to our society. The world today has brought a new insight into the history of black Americans and that has shown me a brighter light as to the history and current conditions these individuals have gone through. I think that Black history needs to be taught to children and young adults more thoroughly and that schools shouldn’t tip toe around the greater problems that go on regarding these individuals. Although schools don’t need to get into full details with younger students, it should be brought to the attention of rising adults because they can be the change makers and the next generation of society to be the difference or keep the patterns going.

  37. Abeer Jafri says:

    I feel like the extent to which racial injustices exist in our past and present were dimmed down in the way I learned about Black history in this country. Slavery and the Jim Crow time period were taught as being horrible, but I think a lot was also left out in that Black people were treated even more brutally than we learned. In light of recent events, I was driven to do more research about Black history and was surprised to find how truly egregious our systemic racism has been. Recent events also show that little change in systemic racism has actually occurred in the past few decades. It is also interesting that most of the Black history I have learned about in school has been taught by non-Black people. I think bringing people who live through being Black in America should be the ones to speak out on their experiences and history, without sugar-coating them for the classroom.

  38. Cody Romani says:

    In grade school and high school, I only remembered talking about Black history mainly during the month of February. I also remember learning about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his famous speeches. Slavery was also discussed in grade school and in high school especially in US History class. However, all the aspects of Black history were not talked about enough. There is so much Black history left out of education which is a major issue. Previously during high school, Black history was only discussed at length during discussions that involved slavery. I feel that this brought a negative connotation to Black history and failed to portray all of the influential things that have and are still happening in Black history. At Siena, I have learned the importance of Black history and how it cannot and should not be left out of “history” books. The contributions of persons of color are important and should be discussed on a regular basis. We should have difficult conversations about race and about accepting all people no matter what in educational settings. Black history is American history and should be incorporated in all classrooms across the world.

    • Dana Wakeman says:

      Cody, this is great! This knowledge will be great to implement in your future classroom.

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