The Theme for Black History Month February 2017, “Do We Have a Crisis in Black Education.” This caught my attention as we struggle to find the future African American leaders. I offer, “We Must Redeem the Dream.” What dream you may ask…the dream of Black American success.
I took a serious look at the history of the Black America struggles in education. It may be noted that during slavery it was unlawful for slaves to learn to read and write. During the pre Civil War era in northern cities, free black children were forced to walk long distances past white schools on their way to the one school relegated solely to them. In the late 19th century laws, policies, or practices, racially separated schools remained the norm. During the 20th century and the 21st century there is a continued crisis in urban neighborhoods where public schools lack resources, endure overcrowding, exhibit a racial achievement gap, and policies that fail to deliver substantive opportunities.
Alas, the strength of the African American details a history rich in centuries-old efforts and resilience. Slaves’ clandestine endeavors to learn, the rise of black colleges and universities after the Civil War, unrelenting battles in the courts, the movement; the freedom schools of the 1960s, local community-based academic and mentorship programs that inspire a love of learning and thirst for achievement.
There is too much schooling not enough education. We must foster a cultural base to educate (toward their goals and to success) children. Educators must build relationships with students and they must develop African-centered orientations to knowledge. There is a historical resistance to schooling within urban schools. In order to combat this stigma we must portray (to our students) the African American successes in education. Educators must work with students to set goals and aspirations. Specifically, we must over turn the belief that African-American males' response to schooling is either being athletes or in trouble with the law! We must emphasize the development of positive self-image. Students must be reinforced with the empowering knowledge of, “Who am I and what is my history?”
We must fight against the “The Ferguson Effect” where daily we are bombarded with images of young black Americans murdered in the streets of America.
Our teachers have a notable role. Leaders of the education community must highlight the views of exemplary African-American teachers.
The American education system must produce a curriculum of Soul-Freeing substance and which develops a legacy of hope. In order for our education system to succeed, steps to take include the resistance of European-Centered Schooling. In the process of educating African American youth, it is imperative to have Parental/Community Involvement. Our communities must start to reclaim responsibility for educating our own. WE ALL must contribute to the education of African American students.
The Future is clear. Kevin Bales reminds us in his statement, “The essential condition of bondage is in the minds of the people.” Simply put, we must not condition Black youth to accept that their place is at the sideline of society. They believe they are a part of the GREATER GOOD IN AMERICAN.
The process of success is to restore the person-hood of the person, to restore self-esteem, confidence, and the feeling that they too can win.
What is your Investment? We as individuals and as a community must recognize that the Crisis in Black American Education is a Crisis AMERICAN Education. We ALL must stand up and be active in the youth of America