Teaching African American History in Virginia


Teaching African American History in Virginia

The integration of African American history into the broad sweep of history taught in the nation’s primary and secondary schools is receiving full support.

On September 17, there will be a Virginia Board of Education meeting with an agenda item titled “Report from the Governor’s African American History Education Commission, August 2020” It will offer here a positive and optimistic approach towards integrating African American history into schools.

Many believe that although revealing the history to students may come as a disappointment to them all, regardless of race. However, the failure to educate students about slavery prevents a full and honest reckoning with its ongoing cost in America. Teaching the truth about slavery, critics argue, could help remedy that. 

“But telling the truth about slavery in American public schools has long been a failing proposition. Many teachers feel ill-prepared, and textbooks rarely do more than skim the surface. There is too much pain to explore. Too much guilt, ignorance, denial.” Tom McClimon, a middle school teacher said.

According to James C Sherlock, an expert in History; “a recommendation is to offer such teaching in the context of the lives of African Americans who overcame those adversities to succeed. Tell optimistic stories of success while ensuring that students learn the daunting, and in the case of slavery, inhumane conditions they overcame.  

Sherlock is convinced that this approach will impart lessons of the past, positive and negative while leaving black children proud of their heritage and white children proud that America produced such men and women and determined to do better in their own lives.”

As issues of race and prejudice and privilege continue to roil America, “an understanding of how slavery forged the country seems all the more necessary” Tom added.

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