James Branch: Is That Black History Stuff Really Important?





[James Branch of Fort Worth is a member of the 2010 Star-Telegram Community Columnist Panel.]

Recently, out of the clear blue sky, one of my daughters asked, "Do we celebrate Black History Month in college?"

"Yes," I nonchalantly replied. I recognized immediately by her intonation and my paternal instinct that she was expecting a more immersive reply....

Having planned and promoted numerous black history programs in various educational settings over the years, I was taken aback by her comments. I believe that educational institutions should always be leading the charge in providing historical information. This generation must not feel that history is not important or that it is an imposition on someone's time.

Has this month become a token gesture? A tradition dedicated to maintaining political correctness? Maybe complacency has crept in. Even in 2010, can our curricula even be trusted to present a balanced glimpse into such an intricate and complex past?...

My daughter's history, just as all history, must include the truth -- good, bad or ugly. We are in a time when unity is more vital for our nation than race. We must instill an understanding in our youths that character far exceeds color....

The local schools will once again go into their storage cabinets and dust off, tape and staple up all of the black history memorabilia from this time last year. Rosa Parks once refused to ride at the back of the city bus; now those are the seats that our youths skirmish over. We simply will not be able to make any sense of what is happening in today's world if we don't know what has happened beforehand.

Yes, this black history stuff is important.


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