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History Needs Help

February 23, 1986

Originally I had plans to attend the black history presentation at Hoover High School. However, after giving it careful thought, I decided that in the best interest of unity I should not. Although it would have given me the opportunity to learn about the sponsoring Black Advisory Committee, its purpose, goals and objectives, there is a very basic issue that I would have been compelled to raise. Instead of tainting the evening, I'll raise it now.

I looked through my ninth-grader's history book to see to what extent it referred to the black experience in the history of America. The lack of any reference only verified what I already knew: Not a single mention of any of the many statesmen and heroes from all walks of life, male or female, who contributed to the struggle for black freedom, as well as the making of this country. This is one of the boldest statements this society can make to perpetuate and reinforce a "lesser," unequal status of a people, further accented by a continued acceptance of a once-yearly "celebration" during the year's shortest month.

To add insult to injury, I've become aware that many schools are doing a variety of meaningless things to "celebrate" "Black History Month" such as talent shows and "The Boot Connection." Then there was Hoover High's fashion show. My question obviously is: What does a fashion show have to do with black history?

Given the state of our society in general, one can understand how and why whites, including teachers, are not interested in black children knowing about their past. (Of course, there are exceptions). It is, however, appalling when hundreds of black teachers, administrators and various support staff members don't seem to care enough to demand and give them what every culture says is essential to the healthy growth and development of its youth. Even our community "leaders" are silent. Many thanks for those rare exceptions.

I believe one can safely assume that the average student, black or of any other ethnic group, cannot intelligently express 10 significant facts about the black historical experience. Or write a comprehensive paper on any figure, save Dr. M.L. King Jr.--perhaps!

Is it not time for all of us to become more serious about the future of our children collectively and participate in shaping it in a different direction, in a more meaningful way than dance programs and fashions shows? After all, all cannot become a Michael Jackson, Patti LaBelle or Magic Johnson. Nor do all want to be.


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