by Stanley Kinard
of Black America Continues
Dr. Carter G. Woodson must be revisited by any serious teacher or educator serious about the education of Black youth. Most Black educators in the New York school system have never heard of Dr. Woodson or read his definitive work, The Mis-Education of the Negro. Some may know that he started Black History Month but not much else. It is a book that should be “required reading” and part of the professional development for all schools where Black students are present.
Many teachers don’t believe that it is important that Black History be at the core of any curriculum where Black students are present. I recently participated in a forum at the City University Graduate Center on Urban Education and I was both taken aback when a White teacher spoke about her advocacy for Black History to be taught in her school in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn. She stated that she was amazed when she received overwhelming resistance to this from Black teachers. The Black teachers did not think it was relevant and felt that Black History should be restricted to Black History Month.
“No systematic effort toward change has been possible, for, taught the same economics, history, philosophy, literature and religion which have established the present code of morals, the Negro’s mind has been brought under the control of his oppressor. The problem of holding the Negro down, therefore, is easily solved. When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him to stand here or go yonder. He will find his ‘proper place’ and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one out for his special benefit. His education makes it necessary.”
– Carter G. Woodson, Ph.D.
These teachers reflect what Dr. Woodson stated in 1933. No one has to encourage them to resist teaching Black History. They automatically accept the Department of Education’s Eurocentric curriculum as gospel. They accept the inaccurate history books and methods of teaching our kids. They never question McGraw-Hill or Harcourt Brace, who have made billions of dollars from the books, teaching and educational curriculums they have published.
There needs to be another Black Educators Summit, where educators come together to discuss the relevancy of teaching Black History in our schools. Until we resolve this internal conflict, we will continue to regress as African people. The celebration of Black History during February is not sufficient to put us on our true cultural path. Extending Black History into the daily curriculum of our schools and other institutions is the only way that we can offset the impact of 50 Cent and lil’ Kim, who have become the cultural heroes of our youth.
My thoughts on the manipulation of the Department of Education’s calendar to shut the schools down for a week during Black History Month continues to be ignored. Teachers are happy about the time off and so are students. Because we as a community were so complacent on that issue, this year the Department of Education decided that schools would be open for Easter week but closed for Passover. This is the first time that I can recall that schools were open for Easter week. Black ministers should have shown some concern, as it is my thinking that these decisions regarding changing the calendar are racial, religious and certainly undemocratic. No one from our community or clergy was involved in any discussions regarding these decisions. Under the current educational dictatorship, many rapid decisions are being made at the Department of Education that have deep implications for the future of our children. More than 70 years later, we still know our “proper place” and without being told go “to the back door.” Three generations later, it is time to revisit The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter G. Woodson, Ph.D.
Sam Anderson was recently honored by Councilman Charles Barron and from Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. Dr. Anderson was cited for his accomplishments over the last four decades in the African Liberation Struggle. He made a presentation on his book, The African Holocaust for Beginners . His well-written book should be on the public schools reading list. Dr. Anderson spoke about his battle to get his book embraced by the school system – something that can happen once the Black community embraces the book. The African Holocaust for Beginners is a title that should be in every home, and then we’ll find it in our schools as well.