Part of our repair as an African people is the
continued struggle to organize to challenge the teaching of African and
Africans in America history
in the public schools of America.
This issue should continue to be a priority in our educational organizing
have African in America children skilled and proficient at reading and
math but having no idea of who they are or where they came from will
repeat the historical errors of education
Throughout the development of education in the
western world, the idea of transmitting knowledge has been done through what is
called a curriculum. It is through this curriculum that people are taught the
values, concepts, principles, and theories that undergird the basic philosophy
of any agreed upon knowledge. This agreed upon knowledge is called a
In the late 1960s, the Black Liberation Movement
charged American educational institutions as being racist and white
supremacist. One of the movements that developed as a result of these charges
was the call for a more accurate and thorough recognition of the contributions of
Africans in America
and African people worldwide to be
included in the curriculums of elementary, secondary, and higher education.
This movement became known as the Black Studies
Movement. Throughout America,
particularly on college campuses and high schools, battles unfolded for the
revision of curriculums that were racist in their interpretations of history
and its impact on African people.
The demands of the Black Liberation Movement were
so forceful (in some instances buildings were seized by students demanding
Black Studies be taught at their schools) that many universities began to
develop Black Studies programs. On the secondary and elementary level in many
school districts throughout the United
States task forces were developed to study,
evaluate, and recommend changes in public school curriculums regarding
the contributions and history of African people in the world.
It has been well over thirty
years since the call was made for Black Studies and since the first Black program was established at San
Francisco State University, after
months of intense battle by African in America students with university
During this current climate of so-called
educational reform very little discussion has taken place regarding the
continued racism and white supremacy of American public school curriculums. The
great movement of the 1960s and 70s put the issue of Black Studies on the
American agenda, but like many issues of the 1960s, they have either fallen by
the wayside or have been put on the back burner.
The concern has shifted from what is being taught
to African in America
children to the problems with skill development in reading and math. There must
be a balance in our concerns, not just regarding skill development, but for what is taught. To have African in
America children skilled and proficient at reading and math but having no idea of who they are or where they came from
will repeat the historical errors of education that Carter G. Woodson so insightfully
discusses in his 1933 publication of The
Mis-Education of the Negro.
We must not abandon the struggle to demand that the
public school curriculums in America
be changed to reflect an accurate interpretation of the history, culture, and
contributions of African people in math, science, language arts, art, and
social studies. At the Ninth National Convention of the National Black United
Front (NBUF) in 1988, in Kansas City, Missouri,
the decision was made to place education as a major priority in our National
Plan of Action in the work that NBUF
carries out in all of its chapters.
this current climate of so-called educational reform very little
discussion has taken place regarding the continued racism and white
supremacy of American public school curriculums
NBUF drew on the success of
the Portland Chapter members of NBUF
who were able to organize the African in America
community in Portland
to demand significant changes be made in what is called the baseline areas of the curriculum as it relates to
African people. Some of the best African minds in the world, such as our distinguished ancestors Dr. John Henrik Clarke and Dr. Asa G.
Hilliard, III were brought in as
consultants to help rewrite the curriculum of the Portland Public Schools. This
document has become known as “The Portland Model” and has been implemented
selectively in other school districts around the country,
particularly in cities where there are NBUF
Chapters. However, we are still at
the embryonic stages of its implementation.
NBUF maintains that, “The issue of education when
properly approached is a mass issue that when won will have a mass impact on
the minds of millions of Black youth and thousands of Black youth locally.
Portland NBUF has demonstrated that
a well organized Black community behind a core of dedicated NBUF members can force local school boards to adopt
an African Centered Program of curriculum change along with other changes that
will be called for in each locality.”
For the sake of our children, we must continue take
on this challenge to change to public school curriculum to more adequately
reflect the contributions of African and African American people in all subject
Columnist, Conrad W. Worrill, PhD, is the
National Chairman Emeritus of the National Black United Front (NBUF). Click here to contact Dr. Worrill.