by B.C. Lorio
The History of African Americans
African American History
It is easy to get depressed and anxious about the problems that we are encountering in our society. We read the headlines in the paper and listen to the news reports and it seems like the entire world is falling down around us. Unfortunately the media does not do a very good job of reporting the good things that are occurring on a daily basis. I know that there are good things that occur on a regular basis because I am an educator and I see the young adults that I work with do special things all the time. The media stands in line to report about a youth that carries a gun into a school, but they take no notice of three students that will carry a fellow paralyzed student up a flight of bleachers so they can watch a basketball game. When I have talked to members of the media about this they report to me that feel good stories do not sell papers or get viewers.
The school setting that I teach in is quite diverse. The main focus we have with our students is respect. Respect yourself, respect other students and respect each others differences. I believe that in order to respect others you need to understand them and theyre believes. I spend a great deal of time talking about the various cultures that are prevalent in our school.
This month we are concentrating on African American history. I involve the students in the lesson plans. Three students are going to present the African American history of their particular families. The neat thing is that these students did not know the full story until they began working on the project. They are learning things about their great grandparents that they never knew before. All students are involved in each segment that we do.
Those students that are not African Americans will report on a more general topic having to do with African American history. The purpose is not only to have a better understanding of each others past and culture, but to realize that most cultures have common elements. The Native American students and the Hispanic students will realize that some of the celebrations they practice within their culture are done for similar reasons.
I do not correlate the different months or topics with national observances. January is the national African American history month. I do not do it then because some of the importance gets over shadowed by the media coverage of national events at the time. The students report to me that they are enjoying learning about each other and understanding each other better. As an educator I need to say that I am optimistic for the future of our country because I see young people doing great things.