The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools Board of Education recently voted against mandatory African-American history courses in public schools.
As an alternative, the board voted to strengthen the Infusion Project which is already in place and uses multicultural resources in lessons but does not have a specific African-American history class.
We believe not requiring African-American history classes is a mistake.
“This will not be easy, much like being Black in Winston-Salem or trying to teach under Eurocentric curriculum isn’t easy,” said Miranda Jones of Local Organizing Committee.
In North Carolina public schools, we learn about the American Revolution and the World Wars, but we struggle to confront our state’s appalling history with slavery, segregation and suppression.
“When we look at what’s going on with Black children — lack of engagement and the achievement gap — nothing should be optional,” Jones said. “We should do everything that we can to save this group of children.”
This year, UNC rolled out the Reckoning: Race, Memory and Reimagining the Public University initiative. The Reckoning initiative is designed to challenge and support students as they learn about race, reconciliation and memory. Programs like this initiative are a model that the Forsyth County Board of Education should follow. Allowing for complex, inclusive courses to be taught at a young age will hopefully create critical thinkers who can address important issues.
History lessons in our schools mostly tell the same narrative that racism used to be a thing, then Martin Luther King Jr. gave a speech, and now it isn’t. Obviously, this is not the case and this needs to be better addressed in our state's curriculum.
It’s important for all students, regardless of their race, to acknowledge that race and racism played a role in shaping our country. Requiring an African-American history class would affirm the fact that Black students' ancestors had just as much of a role in shaping our country as those of their white counterparts.