Tag Archives: Education

Setting the Stage for Black History Month

By Sabrina Völz

Pho­to Cred­it: “Woman holds up sign at the Black Lives Mat­ter protest in Wash­ing­ton DC  6/6/2020” by Clay Banks

It’s that time of year again. Feb­ru­ary 1 marks the begin­ning of Black His­to­ry Month. Before I sug­gest some use­ful resources, let’s briefly look at its origins.

Fact 1: The Unit­ed States is not the only coun­try to offi­cial­ly cel­e­brate it. In addi­tion to our neigh­bors to the North, who also cel­e­brate this time of remem­brance in Feb­ru­ary, the Irish and the Unit­ed King­dom observe Black His­to­ry Month in October.

Fact 2: The roots of Black His­to­ry Month in the U.S. can be traced back to his­to­ri­an Carter G. Wood­son and the Asso­ci­a­tion for the Study of Negro Life and His­to­ry, who togeth­er marked the sec­ond week of Feb­ru­ary – which coin­cides with Abra­ham Lincoln’s birth­day – as Negro his­to­ry week in 1926.

Fact 3: Even the Great Eman­ci­pa­tor had his fail­ures, and so it’s undoubt­ed­ly best that in 1969 stu­dents at Kent State moved to cel­e­brate the con­tri­bu­tions and cul­ture of Black Amer­i­cans for an entire month, instead of plac­ing Pres­i­dent Lin­coln, who upheld the mass pub­lic hang­ing of 38 Dako­ta Sioux on Decem­ber 26, 1862, in the cen­ter of their celebrations.

So, if your school has nev­er cel­e­brat­ed Black His­to­ry Month before, it’s nev­er too late to get on that ‘soul train’. And since we didn’t want to leave you in the lurch, we’ve pro­vid­ed a list of some suit­able blogs we’ve pub­lished over the years on sub­jects, rang­ing from cul­tur­al icons, such as Aretha Franklin, Don Cor­nelius, and Bey­on­cé, to best books and fab­u­lous films deal­ing with Black iden­ti­ty and his­to­ry. You’ll also find infor­ma­tion on some cur­rent controversies:

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My Girls, Our Girls, and the Women Before Us

By Martina Kohl

“It is my hon­or to be here, to stand on the shoul­ders of those who came before,” Kamala Har­ris, the first female, the first black, the first Asian Amer­i­can Vice-Pres­i­dent of the U.S.A. proud­ly said in her first address to the nation on inau­gu­ra­tion day. Her tone is opti­mistic, her goals are ambi­tious, and her ener­gy seems unlimited.

It is true, we all are stand­ing on the shoul­ders of those who came before, all the women who pre­pared the way for our progress, our achieve­ments. And there has been quite a bit of progress as Car­ol Dyhouse, a social his­to­ri­an at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Sus­sex, describes in her new book, Love Lives: From Cin­derel­la to Frozen. The title is a bit mis­lead­ing. Though myths, fairy tales, and pop­u­lar cul­ture tropes still influ­ence us, Dyhouse out­lines how women in the west­ern world have aban­doned the restric­tions of domes­tic life since the 1950s and grad­u­al­ly, though often painful­ly, have claimed access to edu­ca­tion and the pro­fes­sion­al world. A long path it has been to self-deter­mi­na­tion and eco­nom­ic independence.

But even now the ques­tion remains: Have we made enough progress? Because I do wor­ry about “my girls” these days, as Michelle Oba­ma describes them. I wor­ry about “my boys,” too, but this is a blog post to remind our­selves of Inter­na­tion­al Women’s Day and Women’s His­to­ry Month. Both encour­age us to reflect on those who came before, but also on those to whom we pass the baton, whose legs we steady on our shoulders.

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“My Goal Would Be To Go Out of Business and Go Back to the Classroom”: An Interview with Nancy Dome

By Sabrina Völz

At the din­ner table, on the train, or at work, we wit­ness dis­crim­i­na­to­ry lan­guage or racist remarks from time to time. We often know that we should say some­thing, but we – for one rea­son or anoth­er – do not always get involved. Many peo­ple would like to do more but don’t always know how. Dr. Nan­cy Dome, who has worked with chil­dren and edu­ca­tors for over 20 years, has lit­er­al­ly made that quandary both her busi­ness and mis­sion. This week’s blog fea­tures an inter­view with the CEO of Epoch Edu­ca­tion about fos­ter­ing the under­stand­ing of diver­si­ty and the devel­op­ment of inclu­sive cultures.

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The Long March to Justice

By Bobbie Kirkhart

Pho­to Cred­it: “Mia­mi Protest, June 7, 2020” by Mike Shaheen

When I was five years old, I announced my new dis­cov­ery: “Negroes (the polite term at the time) are bad.” My par­ents tried to cor­rect me, but I felt my log­ic was unshak­able: When the radio report­ed a crime, the per­pe­tra­tor was often black. They nev­er said that a sus­pect was white. I didn’t know any black peo­ple in our seg­re­gat­ed town, but I knew many white peo­ple, and none of them were crim­i­nals. This was an open-and-shut case in my five-year old’s mind.

A few weeks lat­er, my father took me down­town to see a parade. He struck up a con­ver­sa­tion with a black woman we were stand­ing next to. She had a baby, who cap­tured my inter­est, though I was more entranced by her Kraft Caramels (my favorite can­dy at the time) she shared gen­er­ous­ly with me. This, of course, com­plete­ly shat­tered my baby bigotry.

When I was approach­ing mid­dle age, I reflect­ed on the inci­dent. Only then did I real­ize that when I was young, parade-view­ing areas – as well as every­thing else – were strict­ly seg­re­gat­ed in Enid, Okla­homa. It must have tak­en some plan­ning and more than a small amount of courage to arrange for us to stand in the “col­ored area” next to a friend­ly woman who just hap­pened to have a cute baby and my favorite candies.

The issue of race did not come up often in our small, most­ly white town (at least not in the white com­mu­ni­ty), so I had lit­tle need to reflect on what I had learned until Emmett Till’s mur­der on August 28, 1955, made nation­al news and pro­voked nation­al outrage.

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“Do they have traffic lights in Ireland?”

By Deidre Hutchison

“Do they have traf­fic lights in Ire­land?” This was a naive ques­tion posed to my cousin on a vis­it to the Unit­ed States in the 1980s. To my pre-teen intel­lect, this was the kind of insult that demon­strat­ed the height of Amer­i­can igno­rance my friends and I so often scoffed at. There was laugh­ter at such a ludi­crous concept.

The image of Ire­land as back­ward bor­dered on com­i­cal and more often, irri­tat­ing. After all, we were a nation with a deep his­to­ry and a rich cul­ture with lit­er­ary giants like James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, and W.B. Yeats. Musi­cal­ly, we boast­ed the renowned tal­ent of every­thing from The Dublin­ers and Thin Lizzy to the glob­al phe­nom­e­non of U2. In our minds, we might be a small island, but we were extreme­ly proud and accomplished.

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