Teachers in Virginia are proving that Black history is something that should be taught in classrooms throughout the year. In southwest Virginia, sixteen school districts are piloting a new program through their African-American history courses.
"We’re learning things every week that for our generation, that stuff wasn’t taught in school,” history teacher Michele Jones told NBC 12.
Through the early stages of the program, teachers and students have been excited about the changes that have been made.
“[One student’s] response was, ‘This class will kill racism before it has a chance to grow,’” Jones said when asked about her student's response to the new curriculum.
“And I thought that was really powerful. And it’s one of the things that I hope, for this class, becomes an underlying theme throughout from the beginning to the end, is addressing inequality and racism. And making the world a better place that we want it to be. Instead of just making quoting, oh ‘Be the change you want to see.’ Well, stop saying it and actually do it.”
The idea for the program kicked off in 2019. The state put together a commission of education professionals working to reimagine how Black history and anti-racist ideologies could be shared in classrooms across Virginia. Two years into their work, the commission is seemingly headed toward the goal they initially set out to achieve.
“One of the things that children often have shared with us is they don’t like studying African American history because it feels like it begins with slavery and it feels like it starts with the deficits of African Americans and very rarely does it get to the assets,” Lynchburg City Schools Superintendent Dr. Crystal Edwards said.
“This is more than memorizing facts. This is powerful and no matter what your ethnicity, you should think about the contributions of every group,” Dr. Allison Jordan added.
In the coming months, the curriculum will spread out to the entire state of Virginia. It may possibly become the standard for other neighboring states.
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