Go in depth with black history


Go in depth with black history

By Ariel Owens

Don’t neglect less popular figures

The educational system has failed students by neglecting to teach all of black history.

In one of my classes, I asked everyone to write down the historical black figures they learned about in school. There was a catch: They couldn’t include Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks or Harriet Tubman.

More than half of my class wrote that they hadn’t been taught about anyone beyond those three historical figures.

There were a few exceptions, but the majority of my class’ lists had no more than five names on them. The survey results were of no shock to me.

Diversity is a huge factor in educating well-rounded students.

Being open minded and culturally competent is essential, and to deny a whole culture its place in history is disrespectful.

“If we’re talking about making a diverse society and you’re eliminating a culture, then that is not diversity. That is just learning to adapt to middle-class white society,” said Derrick Smith, Center for Black Studies academic counselor.

By omitting black culture’s significance in history, what’s implied is that white, European history is all that matters.

Teaching students only one part of history affects their views of their place in society.

Even when learning about black history figures and events, students are taught about slavery and how Martin Luther King Jr. came along to save the day. Struggles of black people are oversimplified.

Smith said W.E.B Du Bois, Marcus Garvey and Thurgood Marshall are influential black people worth learning about.

What blows my mind is the concept that black history should only matter to black people. That couldn’t be more false.

Black history is relevant to everyone, and society needs to stop treating it like it’s separate from American history.

“NIU’s mission statement talks about diversity, so why don’t we require students to take black studies, Latino studies, or learn about other cultures? We’re talking the talk, but we’re not walking the walk,” Smith said.

Schools desperately need to step up and incorporate black history and other cultures into their everyday curriculum.

“We need young people to be brought up right,” said T.J. Hoover, sophomore visual communications major.

The great thing about learning is it doesn’t always have to happen in a classroom. Despite never being taught about the tremendous contributions of black people, it is never too late to start learning.

I challenge you to learn something new. Celebrate Black History month.