Students should learn black history

Cartoon by Ricky Rivera

African-American history should be a requirement for all high school students to graduate.

According to, an Arkansas high school student must complete three units of social studies to graduate: One unit of world history, one unit of American history, half a unit of civics and half a unit of other social studies. The half unit of social studies should be changed to African-American history.

When high school students take American history, they typically learn a distorted version of history in the United States. African-American history is essentially skipped until it is glossed over during Black History Month.

Even during Black History Month, the atrocity of slavery is overshadowed by teaching the American Civil War, while the last week of February is spent talking about Martin Luther King Jr. before the teacher is forced to move on in his lesson plan.

Students rarely get a glimpse of the Atlantic Slave Trade or the daily life of a slave in North America. This means that students are not getting properly educated in American history, and some students are deprived from learning about their ancestors.

Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X were two of the most prominent civil rights activists throughout the 1950s and 1960s. They had somewhat contrasting leadership styles, but both were important to the civil rights movement. However, high school history books focus almost entirely on King. Malcolm X’s involvement with the Nation of Islam, his pilgrimage to Mecca and eventual fall out with Elijah Muhammed all deserve attention that they are not receiving.

Some slaves had families together — something encouraged by some slavers to discourage young males from escape attempts — while others learned skills to make money and most sought respect and status in the slave quarters. The intricacies of an individual slave’s life and emotions are not often considered, but they should be.

It is no secret that racism is still in America today. Perhaps if young adults were more educated on the long-term impact of slavery and the history of slavery itself, it could chip away at racism in America.

In school, students are not taught nearly enough, if at all, about the achievements of African-Americans. However, movies like “Hidden Figures” as well as Barack Obama’s presidency could change this precedent and be used as inspiration.

Cultural integration is an important part of what makes America unique. When Africans were first brought to America, they brought their culture with them; the white people in America at the time integrated cultures with the Africans whether they realized it or not. The way Africans danced, sang, farmed and interacted all began to mesh with white Americans.

Black History Month is rightfully celebrated, but African-American history is a monumental part of American history. When Africans were forcefully brought to America, they made a lasting impact on American culture, and they deserve that recognition.


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