I recently heard a speaker tell his audience, “For Black History month take a trip to the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN or the National Museum of African American History and Culture in DC. You owe it to your children!”
I could just hear the teachers in the audience thinking, “Wait a minute! Have you heard about the budget cuts in our school district? You think we have money for those kinds of field trips?”
I imagined all the parents in the room agreeing, “It’d be nice, but Memphis and DC just aren’t in our vacation budget.”
Well, the Museum and google have come up with a way starting this February for you to give yourself and the next generations a way to learn more about African American history, perseverance and contribution without the cost or time away from home or the classroom.
Google Cultural Institute has released over 4000 documents of important moments in American and Black History – everything from Black Comics to the writings of Frederick Douglass and Dr. Martin Luther King.
You can start with a virtual tour of inspiring places in the Civil Rights movement here and then watch film and TV of important moments in black culture:
For a list of websites exploring racism in U.S. schools and African American experiences in education go to:
Check out PBS’s Powerful series on race. Videos, great articles and transcripts:
http://bit.ly/PBStranscripts – Transcripts of the PBS series
What I like about both the PBS and Ithaca College sites is that they look at the hurdles African Americans face today because of the institutional racism of the past. Too often we get stuck on the INTERPERSONAL LEVEL of Racism – “I’m nice to people; I don’t intend anyone any harm.”
We have not been taught how to look at the SYSTEMIC LEVEL of racism. At these sites topics such as economic mobility, home ownership, school testing, discipline and suspensions and the like are covered.
Focusing on African American history without showing how the past is still affecting the present leaves our young people without an understanding of today’s challenges and how they might make a difference.
The victories and achievements African Americans continuously make despite ongoing discrimination is a cause for celebration and inspiration for all Americans. All of us need to understand – beyond our own attitudes, thinking and behavior toward others – what needs to be done to create real social change.
Sue O’Halloran is a diversity consultant working for more inclusive schools, businesses and faith-based organizations. High school teachers, Sue will be offering a free webinar in 2018 – 3 Common Mistakes High School Teachers Make that Have Them Unintentionally Offending Students & Parents of Different Races. Watch for announcements!