Black History Mandate In Schools Passes Del. House

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Delaware students could get what’s termed a ‘more realistic and wholistic history of Black people’ under legislation approved in the House of Representatives Thursday.

The measure would require Delaware school districts and charter schools to provide curricula on Black History, providing education on how Black people were treated throughout history in the US and on the ramifications of prejudice, racism and intolerance. The requirement would start with the 2022-23 academic year.

“Isolating Black history to 28 days does a great disservice to the countless Black Americans who have contributed to our nation throughout the past 400 years. Black history is American history, and if it is not taught, it can easily be forgotten,” State Representative Sherry Dorsey Walker, D-Wilmington said. “When teaching the history of our nation, the achievements, challenges, contributions, struggles and triumphs of Black people should not be segregated, but be incorporated into the American story, just as they unfolded in history. By helping all students of all races to see Black people as integral to this nation, and by teaching what the full experience of being Black means, we can truly understand and really see each other.”

Dorsey Walker is the sponsor of HB 198

During debate Thursday there was some pushback from some lawmakers who said while it sounds like a good idea it could end up being divisive, and that it focuses upon only one race. Sponsors believe Black History is too often relegated to one month – February, the shortest month.

Groups such as the NAACP of Delaware, Africana studies programs at the University of Delaware and Delaware State and other organizations – including Eastern Shore AFRAM in Seaford – would be consulted about curricula.

“American history is a rich tapestry of interwoven narratives about the struggle and success of people from many ethnic, racial, cultural and religious backgrounds,” State Senator Elizabeth “Tizzy” Lockman, D-Wilmington said. “Sharing that history with our young people gives them an opportunity to express those many viewpoints – as emotionally painful and ideologically contradictory as they may sometimes feel. Only by acknowledging and embracing the full history of Americans and all of its people can we begin to heal the wounds of past sins and begin to move forward with a common understanding of who we are collectively.”