County NAACP to tackle black history in schools
"Until the Lions have their Historians, the Tales of the Hunt Will Continue to be Told by the Hunter."
That African proverb explains the enthusiasm of the Palm Beach County Schools African American Studies team that spoke to an NAACP community meeting at Mt. Carmel Baptist Church March 31.
Over 40 citizens, both black and white, applauded vigorously as the team spoke on the importance of black history education in the schools. Both black and white students needs to know that human history began in Africa., speakers said.
The Palm Beach County system is almost the only Florida school system to have successfully implemented the 1994 legislative mandate for black history throughout the K-12 curriculum in all state schools.
"It took seven years to do it," said Debbye Raing, Studies program manager.
"In the first five years after the 1994 legislation, we didn't get much done.
"Then outside community groups like the NAACP began to put pressure on the school board to speed up the addition of black history. Now the school board has taken the leadership and we have a superintendent who is very supportive."
The team is not resting on its laurels for the Palm Beach County schools success. They travel widely, including visits to the Caribbean countries, to speak on the advantages of including black history in the schools.
"We chose the name of Studies, rather than History, because the program covers a wider area than just the historical facts," said Margaret Newton, resource teacher for the Palm Beach School system. She is also a member of the state Office for Implementing the Black History Infusion.
Third team member is Laurence Wesley, professor of African American History at Daytona Beach Community College. He has represented the U.S. State Department in presentations on African American Studies in South Africa, Egypt, Ghana, Senegal and Puerto Rico.
Improved interracial relationships are one benefit of the African American studies, he said.
All team members have advanced degrees and wide experience in multicultural education and cross culture communications and understanding.
NAACP President Dr. Michael Bowie introduced the speakers. The meeting was arranged by the NAACP Education Committee to kick-off a community drive to enhance black history teaching in local schools.
The consensus of top national educators and psychologists is that both teachers and students suffer from a lack of multicultural understanding. A new community coalition is organizing to deal with this problem. Interested citizens may call 378-1138 to join this effort.
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