A student reading an American History book, but not learning about African American history. Schools do not teach enough black history to their students. (Photo courtesy of Mariah Kern)
Schools should teach African American history throughout the year because it will always be relevant. “You can’t have American history without African American history,” said Kevin Bacon, an African American history teacher. It’s important to “spend time explaining how everybody contributed to America,” said Bacon.
Other teachers only teach their students about African American history when it “relates to the curriculum,” said Tonya Eastman, an American History 1 teacher. When it comes to African American history, teachers are only required to teach their students about slavery and reconstruction, according to the North Carolina American History 1 curriculum. So if teachers only teach what’s in the curriculum, students miss out on other aspects of black history.
Teachers expect students to have learned about slavery before coming to high school, so high school teachers “do a quick review[on the topic,]” said Eastman.
Some students “never learned about slavery in school,” said Danielle Mankessi, a sophomore. The students that didn’t learn about the topic in previous grades don’t have any prior knowledge when entering high school.
“You can’t talk about African American history without touching on Africa” said Mankessi. When teachers talk about the history of African Americans they start with slavery, but what about Africa before slavery? Before colonization Africa “was ruled by distinct empires,” said Mark Oliver, a writer and teacher. Some of these empires are the Ashanti empire and the Ethiopian empire which soon fell apart years after colonization. Students know about the Mayan and the Aztec empire, but not these African empires because they were not taught about them.
“Teachers don’t know enough about the history of African civilizations to teach their students adequately,” said ShaRhonda Knott-Dawson, a blogger. Teachers have to have knowledge of the topic in order to teach their students about it. Teaching African American history can be beneficial for students and teachers, because it would broaden their understanding of other ethnicity groups.