Yesterday would have been Carter G. Woodson’s 141st birthday. He is widely known as the Father of Black History Month. As I mentioned yesterday, I will be spending my break reading his seminal text, The Miseducation of the Negro.
I am working with some woke students to create a compilation album, tentatively titled, The Miseducation of Black Youth. We initially were inspired by Lauryn Hill’s multi-platinum, life changing album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. But thankfully my mentor reminded me of Carter’s foundational text and a man who loved his people, unapologetically and spent his life ensuring that we knew of who and whence we came.
When we think of ways to instill our students with PRIDE, (Positive Racial Identity Development through Education) we must acknowledge that everything in this society is set up for black people in particular and people of color at large, to believe they are inferior and to accept an inferior status and to blame ourselves for our current condition.
As I review the chapter titles of Miseducation, I am reminded that we have always had the blueprint for moving forward, but we’ve been lulled into a deep long sleep. Woodson explains how we have drifted away from the truth; what happens when our education is under outside control, our failure to learn how to make a living, our loss of vision and the need for service rather than leadership, as well as the type of professional man we need in order to move forward.
As I write this post, I’m listening to Kendrick Lamar’s Blacker the Berry. And I wonder how many of our students across the city, the country, the world are listening to this song on their headphones while walking to school and wondering why being black is such a threat and why school does nothing but teach them how inferior they are.
I know we are all excited about the upcoming break and we all deserve to have time to rest and reset. But, after a few days of decompressing, I ask that you begin to plan. Plan for the ways we will honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the beginning of the same week that this country will inaugurate the 45th President and welcome in the apocalypse and end of days…I’m joking. (NOT). Beyond that very emotional week, we all know that February marks our time to celebrate the impact the Black people have had on the formation of this country and the ways we have changed the world. And I ask for you to think long and hard about how we celebrate ourselves, our students, and our communities.
And as we apply the Sankofa principle, which asks us to “go back and fetch it,” I implore you to look around us, right now, because there are freedom fighters amongst us and we need to let our students know that they are not alone, that our best is not behind us, that we are not helpless or hopeless and we are not wandering in the wilderness.
So Happy Birthday Carter G. Woodson and thank you for leaving a legacy that we all can honor.
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