Black history should be studied in school


February 16, 2023

To The Eagle:

Sports’ greats Jack Robinson, Hank Aaron, Jim Thorpe, and Roberto Clemente, as well as Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, civil rights heroine Rosa Parks, and Nelson Mandela, Africa’s former president and apartheid’s legendary nemesis, all share two commonalities:

First: they are ‘people of color’ whose published biographies reflect upon their lifelong struggles against, and personal triumphs over, the racial prejudice and bigotry they had to overcome as they fought to live successful, ultimately famous, lives.

The second commonality: their biographies have been banned from Florida’s school libraries because Ron DeSantis, that state’s governor and leading racist demagogue, has declared that such inspiring literature “lacks educational value, creates divisiveness and promotes White shame.”

DeSantis has stated that ‘Black history’ is merely Critical Race Theory, not U.S. history, and is undeserving of separate, dedicated study.

That view is supported by white supremacist ideologues, who demean the history, culture, and contributions of Black people. This echoes other ongoing efforts across the United States to purge the public sphere of any mention of ‘divisive concepts,’ or any conversation about the fact of enduring racism in the history of this nation.

Hundreds of school districts located in 32 states covering about four million pupils, heavily concentrated in the Republican strongholds of Texas and Florida, have banned over 2,500 books in different US school districts and libraries- more than ever previously recorded. They have overwhelmingly targeted books by authors of color, about racism, sexuality, gender, and their history in this country.

Ray Bradbury intended his dystopian novel ‘Fahrenheit 451', about a dark American landscape backlit by the bonfires of burning books, to be a warning. Ultra-Conservative puritanical, racist, prurient book censors are instead using Bradbury’s plot as a blueprint for action.

Black history deserves to be studied separately as a grim chapter of American history, because the Black American experience remains shackled to its Jim Crow past. As famous Southern novelist William Faulkner has observed, “ the past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

JB Bouchard, Puget Island


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