The challenge of teaching black history: sifting truth, myth, biasHistorians in the News
tags: teaching, education, historians, Black History Month, Black History
The odyssey of black people in the United States began 400 years ago with the arrival of slaves from West Africa. With that kind of introduction, the relationship with this country has often been controversial, but still relevant. So how do you accurately incorporate that history into lessons that teach students what shaped this country’s past and has lasting effects on its future?
Frederick Knight is a history professor at Morehouse College. He specializes in the African Diaspora and agreed that it can be tricky distinguishing fact from fiction in the history of a race that rarely was allowed to chronicle its own stories.
“Especially in K through 12 education it’s important to provide doses of truth and allow the students to make their own discoveries,” he said. “That sets them up to be lifelong learners who cross-check facts and don’t accept everything at face value.”
Knight published the book, “Working the Diaspora: The Impact of African Labor on the Anglo-American World, 1650-1850,” in 2010. He argues that the knowledge that Africans carried across the Atlantic shaped Anglo-American agricultural development and made particularly important contributions to cotton, indigo, tobacco, and staple food cultivation.
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