24 Feb 2021 Creating an Effective Black History Month
It’s the 51st official Black History Month, but – as Project 21 member Christopher Arps notes – it has not always been an effective observance. But that’s okay if one has the right mindset and guidance.
In a commentary for The Federalist, Christopher recalls that, having grown up in the 70s and 80s, he doesn’t “remember an emphasis on black history in the classroom, even in February.” And when there finally was one, “[t]he curriculum was repetitious.” It was a “broken record” of the same group of historic figures like the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., and “no deep dives” on more complex figures such as Booker T. Washington and Frederick Douglass.
Yet Christopher doesn’t see this as a problem – at least not for himself:
Was I somehow shortchanged or diminished because I didn’t learn much about black history from my teachers? Not at all. My parents—especially my mother, an elementary school teacher—understood the times. They realized it was their responsibility to ensure their son knew the history and accomplishments of his people.
All this being said, Christopher suggests that school curriculums could be “greatly enhanced by a better study of black history.” But he also finds it problematic when politics takes precedence over actual teaching:
At the same time, the pedagogy of ethnic pride comes with responsibility currently being abdicated for radicalism. That’s why it’s a shame when contemporary Black History Month curricula simply revises history for political gain. A prime example is the “1619 Project” peddled by The New York Times.
Last year, Christopher represented Project 21 and the Free Enterprise Project at the annual shareholder meeting of the New York Times. He noted that the newspaper’s historically-flawed “1619 Project” – which weaves a theme of systemic racism throughout American history – is being used by many schools these days as their vehicle for teaching black history. He asked Publisher A.G. Sulzberger to “correct the record” to “ensure that schools using 1619 Project materials are not teaching falsehoods.”
In a troubling response, Sulzberger expressed pride in a stated goal to “simply encourage dialogue,” despite the fact that the 1619 Project has been credited with helping fuel last year’s rioting and animosity:
Is it healthy and uplifting to tell black students they are perpetual victims living in a racist country founded on preserving the intuition of slavery? Will this encourage them to strive for excellence and achievement to uplift fellow blacks?
This mindset does a disservice to [Carter G.] Woodson’s aspiration. As they do with almost everything they touch, leftists turned something that’s potentially useful into just another vehicle for left-wing propaganda and proselytizing. My parents handled Black History Month much better.
To read all of Christopher’s commentary – “Americans Deserve True Black History, Not Lies From the 1619 Project” – at The Federalist website, click here.