Each year, there are teachers who focus on going beyond simply celebrating Black history. However, there are even fewer schools that actual have a curriculum or lessons that we teach to our youth how to deconstruct racism. I happen to be one of of those teachers. I’m fortunate to be teaching at a school that supports teaching Black history 365 and empowering our scholars to make a global impact.
I don’t just celebrate Black History Month; I teach Black history all year to my scholars!
Beginning in September of this school year, my scholars have completed four projects on Black history. Service learning projects are a great way to teach all students about Black history and actually give them footing in making social change in our country.
My scholars at 7 Pillars are no strangers to Black history. There is so much we’re learning about HBCUs, the Divine Nine, famous inventors, and explorers. I also taught my scholars about Garrett A. Morgan, Black Wall Street, and the Black Panthers. They had no clue about who they are and their important place in Black history.
Our leaders and academic team infused creative ways of teaching these principles which are our pillars. We’ve focused on community and how we need to help make a global impact. The aspect of Black history that I’ve been focusing on has been the strategies our ancestors used to build our communities and excel.
We have learned enough about the era of slavery.
As a teacher, I don’t devalue slavery. I also don’t empower slavery as the main idea of our narrative as Black Americans in this country. No, we can’t physically feel the pain of slavery but we can mentally, socially, financially, and educationally see the impact today. Too many of our Black students equate Black history to slavery. This isn’t just a lack of intentional teaching of Black history in school but also in our communities and homes.
7 Pillars Career Academy is founded on the principles of Kwanzaa. Each day as I’m teaching my scholars the state standards, I am infusing the principles of Kwanzaa. In 6th grade, my scholars are learning to master time management, unity, conflict resolution, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. One of my scholars asked, “How does this connect to Black history?” These skills connect to Black history because they are the tools ancestors used to succeed.
Our history isn’t just tied down to slave ships and chains!
I connect our history to our present by empowering my scholars to utilize the tools of success needed to continue pushing our society towards progress change. Everything isn’t fair, equitable, and just for all. Until we get there, especially until we begin treating Black and brown people as first-class citizens, we have much to do and much to teach regarding the true history of Blacks in America.
Teaching Black history throughout the school year is what truly motivates Black scholars and helps them tap into their greatness. We need more traditional and non-traditional public schools teaching Black history. We can’t make Black history exciting by focusing on the atrocities of slavery only. We must infuse social justice movements of this time through Black Lives Matter, and work towards reforming the prison and criminal justice system.
Police officers in America, for too long, have been able to shoot unarmed Black and brown citizens, especially our men. In teaching Black history, we must highlight the tense relationships between the police and politicians towards the Black and brown communities in America. They must understand that as we are chanting, “Hands up; don’t shoot!”
If we don’t teach our youth ways to deconstruct systematic racism towards particular citizens in America, then we will never see the change that our ancestors sang, prayed, and worked so hard to implement.
I am encouraging teachers to implement lessons in their curriculum that focuses on some social justice issues. Teaching is powerful and allows the mind to expand outside of just our perspective. Moving forward, we need more school districts, more teachers, more Black males teaching and helping our youth make a change in our society by teaching critical aspects of Black history.
Jason has worked in education for over 15 years as a teacher, blogger and community advocate. He speaks and writes primarily about the need to improve education for Black boys, particularly increasing the number of Black male educators in schools. In addition to blogging here at EdLanta, Jason is also a featured writer at Education Post.