Black Poetry : Does Black History Month Mean as much as it Once Did?

rhymebad, I agree that slavery should never have happened, but i'm not talking about eliminating black history month, i'm talking about expanding it. I think black history should be a required course in our schools, from grade school...on. I think American history books should be rewritten, to tell the truth. I think black people should be acknowledged for their accomplishments...instead of decried for what the media intensely tries to convey to the world.

THANKS for stopping by, rhymebad.
In her early student teaching days my daughter returned to her former high school to sub for a teacher who had to
take a medical leave from her African American history class. My daughter said she was stunned by the black students
attitude about taking the course, They didn't want to be in the class and they didn't want to learn about Black History.
As one student angrily said "I don't know why we have to study black history, we aren't slaves anymore."

My daughter no matter how she tried to stir interest in the students they remained indifferent and angry, So angry that
one of them pick up a favorite chair of the absent teacher and threw it out the 2nd story window into the snow. And later on they added the classroom globe to the snowy ground outside.

She a very difficult time with them they just didn't want to learn about black history in anyway shape or form.

To hear stories like this. I think back to the late 1960's when black students would seize the dean's offices at various
colleges around America. Their goal was to force the schools to include black studies courses to the college's curriculum. Very little was mentioned about the people and events that shaped the evolutionary path of black history

The black students did win black studies were added to the line up of college courses. Now fast forward to nearly
a half century. Now suddenly black kids are moaning and asking why it remembering black history necessary.


1967: African American students strike, survive police riot to force change

A student protest 35 years ago can be seen as the birth of multicultural education in Philadelphia
by Ron Whitehorne

In 1967, African American students all across the nation’s college campuses were shutting down classes and sitting in administration offices to demand Black Studies and the recognition from university faculties that history is not synonymous with the doings and viewpoints of white Europeans.

The students were part of a broader movement for “Black Power”– for an end to the exclusion of African Americans from those institutions that control their lives.

Schools in big cities like Philadelphia were a case in point. By the late 1960s, the Philadelphia public schools were predominately African American, but policy-making remained largely in the hands of white elites and politicians. The overwhelming majority of African American students attended segregated schools, with inadequate resources and a curriculum that reinforced the racial and social status quo.

Students met with repression

Inspired by the activism on the campuses and in the community, African American high school students here organized to demand changes in their education.

On November 17, 1967, 3,500 students walked out of their classes and marched to the Board of Education to present their demands. The students called for the teaching of African American history, the right to wear African dress and the renaming of several predominantly Black high schools after African Americans who have contributed to our history.

They were met by what many observers later characterized as a police riot.

Assembling peacefully at the Board of Education headquarters at 21st and the Parkway, the students were confronted by two busloads of police, led by then Commissioner Frank Rizzo. Participants reported that Rizzo led the charge, telling his troops to “get their Black *****.”

The result was that 22 people were seriously injured and 57 were arrested. The police acted on the initiative of Rizzo, whereas the reform-minded superintendent, Dr. Mark Shedd, reportedly favored negotiations with the students.

While many leaders in the City spoke out against the unprovoked and /putal attack on the students, others defended Rizzo as the man who was “keeping the lid on” in Philadelphia. Rizzo rode this reputation to two terms as Mayor, becoming a darling of the Right across the nation.

Fruits of the struggle

The School District did respond positively to many of the students’ concerns. Following the student demonstration, an Ad Hoc Committee for the Infusion of African and Afro-American Heritage was created. The Committee made a series of recommendations which became the basis for School District policy.

In April 1969, a directive from the Deputy Superintendent of Instruction announced that “the policy of the School District of Philadelphia requires every school to provide a well-rounded program of African and Afro-American history and culture for every child as an integral part of his total school experience.” A nine-point plan for implementation included staff development, curriculum reform, courses for parents, and the production of instructional materials.

The District published a range of resource guides, model curricula, and other instructional material. Local activists and historians as well as scholars with national reputations were involved in creating these materials. A curriculum specialist position in African and Afro-American Studies was also created.

In 1971, Rizzo made good on a campaign promise to sack Superintendent Shedd and put the brakes on many of the reforms of his administration, including the infusion of African American studies. But more recently, the District has publicly reaffirmed its commitment to the inclusion of African and African American studies and prioritized these goals in the curriculum.

The struggle today is to translate the goals identified in the curriculum into pervasive and effective classroom practice. But the inclusion of African American experiences and perspectives is now School District policy. For that we need to honor those 3,500 students who, thirty-five years ago, had the courage and vision to stand up for their rights.

My how times change my, my, my.:handsinair:I wonder what has gone wrong? :shakehead ron:
My mother and I recently had a conversation concerning Black History needing to be taught to school students as early as 2nd or 3rd grade. I actually believe American History is Black History and The White Man should have February for White History month,

"Does black history month mean as much as it once did?"

I don't believe it does.'

Of course, more can and needs to be done. I think once black history month was 'given' a lot of black folk felt it was a great-enough-accomplishment, that we have made it to the mountaintop and all's good. The white man has shown us faithfully that they have NO interest, nor intention to inspire our young. They know its the way out. Its the responsibility of each and everyone of us. We should make and take every opportunity to teach our own children and any black child we cross paths with.

I enjoyed reading your thought-provoking poem. Thank you!

I also enjoyed reading Harry's response to your piece...very informative and incredibly inspiring!



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