In the other corner, critics cast doubt that Black History Month is still relevant with the gains made in race relations—a black U. president the most visible sign—and detractors charge it is detrimental in the long term to pigeonhole black history into a month-long observance.
Somewhere caught in the middle are educators and schools.
The report paints an unfavorable picture of schools where a crucial event in black history is largely ignored.
As a former student in Rockville, Maryland, Zia Hassan recalls February as the time when students were encouraged, or sometimes even mandated, to read the work of black authors, which he found meaningful.
Teacher materials produced for February’s celebration of black history are often limited to the most-celebrated black Americans—Martin Luther King, Jr., George Washington Carver, Rosa Parks—with a smattering of black athletes and entertainers tossed in.
Raquel Willis, a writer and racial-justice activist in Atlanta, remembers annual Black History Month school displays in her hometown of Augusta, Georgia, as neither memorable nor notable.His view of Black History Month is more nuanced as an adult.“I believe that having a month for black history compartmentalizes the issue, as if once the month is over we can turn our attention away from it again until the next year,” said Hassan, a fourth-grade English language-arts teacher at Truesdell Elementary School in Washington, D. Explaining his teaching philosophy, Hassan said a worthwhile history curriculum is one that would have “slavery and racism ingrained within it, just as it is in American society.Woodson, a noted scholar, author, and co-founder of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. Today Woodson’s brainchild is the entire month of February.First celebrated in 1976, Black History Month was the result of a growing racial pride and consciousness of black Americans and Woodson’s association pushing to expand the weekly celebration.Twenty states received a failing grade, and in five states—Alaska, Iowa, Maine, Oregon, and Wyoming—civil-rights education was totally absent from state standards.Overall, the study found less teaching of the civil-rights movement in states outside the South and those with fewer black residents.Note how his achievements changed the face of America forever.Talk about African American culture and how it influenced America.It would not be discussed as a side issue.” He values a month when black authors and historical figures can be studied exclusively, but Hassan believes Black History Month as observed in many schools sends a troubling message to students that “we’re allowed to grapple with [black issues] less in, say, March or April …It is important to discuss issues of race in the context of current events throughout the year, no matter the unit topic.” The classroom Hassan describes, however, is hardly the norm.