Teacher and student reflect on importance of Black History Month

Teacher shares thoughts on controversial legislation

Teaching Black History month in schools

OSCEOLA, Ark. (KAIT) - February is Black History Month, and teacher Kandace McDonald and student Logan Slayton say it’s important to celebrate black history and remember those who paved the way for equality. McDonald is also wary of legislation that could affect the way it is taught.

Both McDonald and Slayton say that it’s not only important to learn about black history in February, but it’s important to learn all year long.

McDonald, an AP teacher at Osceola High School, says that she will highlight young people who spoke out against racism this month.

Throughout the year, they learn about African American artists and poets like Richard Wright. Most recently, she has incorporated lessons about George Floyd and the protests that happened this summer.

McDonald says that it’s an essential part of the curriculum.

“So that we can recognize the triumphs and tribulations that black people went through in America as a whole,” McDonald said. “I think it’s important for young people to know our past so that it’s not repeated and so that they are not ignorant to things that they may face in the future.”

Slayton is a 10th grader. He says that all school districts should make their history classes diverse.

“I kinda feel bad for them if they’re not learning about black history because there’s a lot you can learn about it and learn from it,” Slayton said.

Logan says he’s thankful for all the sacrifices African Americans made so that he can have a better life and equality.

“How they paved the way for us African Americans and to be where we are today, I’m thankful,” Slayton said.

Some worry that House Bills 1218 and 1231 would threaten the teaching of black history in public schools. McDonald shared her thoughts on the controversial legislation.

“But that’s funny to me because we as African Americans have been living in that our entire life. We have dealt with Jim Crow laws, had to go through Brown v. Board just to get a seat in, so how dare they, the government to say that kind of thing,” McDonald said.

House Bill 1218 states that “public schools are not to teach anything that promotes the overthrow of the United States government or promotes division between, resentment of, or social justice,” for certain groups of people.

The bill also prohibits the “offering of certain courses, events, and activities regarding race, gender, political affiliation, social class, or certain classes of people.” To find out more about the bill, click here.

House Bill 1231 bans the “1619 project,” which teachers that slavery is the founding force of the United States and its core values. To find out more about the bill, click here.

Copyright 2021 KAIT. All rights reserved.