Monday, May 22, 2017


By Fahim A. Knight-El

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Black history for me as many of my reading audience, perhaps already know, is a very passionate​ subject in which I take very serious. Some years ago, my three sons were in the public school system as students. My middle son ran into some obstacles about his love for black history (I taught all of my children​ to love their blackness and to embrace their culture and heritage) and on this one occasion a mis-educated and hankerchef head Negro teacher was attempting to deter him from writing a paper on a non-traditional African American leader. The teacher had a shallow perspective on African American history and our contribution to civilization.

This school district constituted Negro teachers and white teachers (both of them shared the same mindset) I took on these Uncle Tom Negro teachers and educators. I wrote a book titled, A Children Manual in African American History, in defense of my son and in defense of every black child in that school district. I wanted to let them know that there were many more historical African American leaders other than George Washington Carver, Dr. Marin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks. I highlighted twenty so-called African American personalities in that book such as: David Walker, Harriet Tubman, Phillis Wheatley, Marian Anderson, Yahweh Ben Yahweh, Marcus Garvey, Booker T. Washington, Sojourner Truth, Kwame Ture, Oba Adefumi, Louis Farrakhan, Carter G. Woodson, Noble Drew Ali, Mary Church Terrell, Elijah Muhammad, W.E.B Dubois, etc.

I explained to my son during this process that if we do not like​ what Negro and white educators are writing and presenting then it is our responsibility and obligation to write and record our own history (this became one of those true teachable moments). But if you dare take this type of non-compromising position, you must be willing to often pay a huge personal price, because there are consequences that comes along when you dare to speak truth to power, I paid and my children paid a heavy price for standing up and challenging white supremacy and their Negro overseers. If had to do it all over again I would do it the exact same way.

The teaching of Black History in the public schools should be considered an academic mandate to be taught as part of the overall curriculum and incorporated as an extension of American History (required beyond just being a student elective) that should serve as a prerequisite for all U.S. public school students. Moreover, which will create culture diversity in learning and foster better understanding about the social, political and economic plight of African American people and their descendents, and the contribution they made in American history and on the stage of world civilization.

Also Black History could be used in the classroom to build positive self-esteem and self-awareness amongst African American students and improve academic achievement. This writer finds this research important because my late grandparents and my Elders informed me that during the Jim Crow (Plessy v. Ferguson 1896) and segregation era in America, in particular in the old south black history was taught in the segregated black school districts and classrooms as a required mandate, it instilled racial pride and connected blacks to the social progress they made prior to slavery, during slavery and up until civil rights movement of the 1950s (Brown v. Board of Education 1954) and 1964 Civil Rights Act were only social progression steps of attempting to legally remedy the political, economic and social challenges that were confronting black people in the 1950s and 1960s (but if we as so-called African Americans​ were honest with ourselves, it is enough clear evidence that has been rendered over the last sixty years to prove that integration has failed us as a people).

This writer will use various scholars, historians and social scientist (mainly secondary sources) to build a scholarly case of why it is important to include the teaching of Black History in the public school classrooms by analyzing and assessing the historiography in which to allow the evidence to substantiate the necessity of Black History being inclusive as part of the pedagogy of the American public educational process.

This research also will briefly look at the systemic effects of Chattel Slavery, Jim Crow and the positive and negative impact segregation had on the educational development of class curriculum (fostering educational disparities) and the roll black history need to continue to play. I would argue that the teaching of Black History could benefit all races, colors and nationalities when it comes to creating a learning environment that promotes educational diversity and an inclusionary teaching dynamic that could increase tolerance amongst students and people who may come from different socio-economic backgrounds and culture experiences. Yet, this writer, will address the critics and opponents of black history who do not view the teaching of black history in the classroom as needing to be mandatory within the American educational curriculum. This writer must be forthcoming and admit that based on the research length this thesis will have limitations in scholarly scope, but nevertheless, will attempt to expand the conversation and discussion relative to the value and importance of having black history being taught in the public systems school classrooms​.

Dr. James Standifer in the 1987 edition of "Journal of Negro Education" argues the importance of educational diversity and inclusion. Standifer argued that the present day teachers with out doubt have been better trained in the application of teaching methodology, which is a step in the right direction. But argued that there should be more training and attention around creating healthier learning environments that stems from working to better understand cultural diversity. And strengthen human relations by synthesizing and infusing into the educational curriculum an appreciation for the culture of ethno-marginalized people such as Asian-American, African American, Native Americans, Hispanic Americans, etc. Standifer argued the above mentioned multicultural approach of ethnic inclusion was more valuable to a society that is in a social, political and economic transition and the curriculum should dictate this by moving away from any previous or present educational models or curriculums that negated multicultural diversity 

Standifer places tremendous value and focus on creating a curriculum that gives way to infusing learning more into a melting pot in which culture was seen as a vehicle to expand student’s worldview and enhance learning, as opposed to allowing culture to serve as a stagnate and divisive antagonistic contradiction. I think that Standifer was a visionary who understood thirty years ago that culture bias, stereotypes, racism, etc., could be eradicated by providing unlimited culture exposure to students; the ultimate goal was building tolerance on the academic level. Standifer argued four major goals and objectives of supporting educational inclusion. 1). To help students develop positive and realistic self-concepts regardless of race, sex, or culture background; (2) to help students understand that both sexes and diverse racial/cultural groups have valuable contributions to the heritage of the United States of America and that this rich diversity enriches and strengthen our country; (3) to help students understand that all persons are members of the human race and have common needs, feelings, and problems, while stimulating their appreciation for the uniques of each individual and culture group; and (4) to help students develop positive interpersonal and intergroup communication techniques as well as motivation to play an active role in the solution of societal conflicts." (James A. Standifer. “The Multicultural, Nonsexist  Principle: We Can't Afford to Ignore It”; The Journal of Negro Education: A Howard University Quarterly Review Issues Incidents to the Education of Black People volume 56 (1987): 471-474 print).

After the 2008 presidential election of America's first so-called black President Barack Obama there was talk that the United States as a nation had transitioned into a post-racial era, which early on some believed that the social and the racial dynamics inside the United States had forever changed with his election of Obama as U.S commander-in-chief. But there were some public intellectuals who were skeptical of this notion such as Dr. Eric Michael Dyson, Dr. Boyce Watkins, Dr. Cornel West, Tavis Smiley and black nationalist leader Minister Louis Farrakhan who attempted to caution us about the so-called post racial era being ushered in with President Barack Obama becoming the first African American president (they argued that according to the NAACP and the U.S. Justice Department the racial divide was acerbated after 2008).

Dr. Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950) known as the Father of Black History understood that the so-called American Negro had a long and worthy history that had been systematically covered up and distorted. It would be the work of Woodson in a formal way in 1926 establishing Black History Week and early on in 1916 founding the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History that brought attention to the need of treating black history as being totally inclusive of United States history and creating a broader level of academic respectability for it as a discipline in and outside the classroom.

Yet, his contemporary Dr. W.E.B. Dubois (1868-1963) who was the first African American in 1895 to receive a Ph.D in history from Harvard University ​and would play a major intellectual role in writing scholarly defenses and re-counting ancient and modern African civilizations that predated American slavery. Dubois and Woodson produced bodies of historiography, which meticulously redefined the historical meaning of black history and how it would be viewed for decades to come, in particular in the world of academia. Dubois and Woodson were professional historians whose scholarship stood as empirical models​ and served as an indication that blacks played a major role on the stage of human civilization. Dr. Carter G. Woodson first published the Mis-Education of the Negro in 1933, and was the second African American to receive a Ph.D in history from Harvard University in 1912 behind W.E. B. Dubois who was awarded a Ph.D from Harvard in 1895 (and wrote the dissertation titled, Suppression of the African Slave Trade).

He explored and critiqued the historical effect American education has had on the so-called American Negro. Woodson maintained that American education was rooted in a Eurocentric and European historical paradigm where European history was viewed as superior to other people's cultures and having falsely thought of themselves as being the citadel of civilization. Thus, African Americans were taught that they were inferior and were urged to admire European historical accomplishments over the contributions that African people had made on the stage of human civilization. The text books were written to reflect the social, political and economic views of the dominant white culture. It was perhaps this negation that has historically fostered the need for African Americans to establish and develop schools and academies that gave recognition to their contributions to world civilizations and American history other than their contributions as slaves. Thus, due to very little official records were being recorded and kept on the African slaves, most of the early history of the black experience had to be pieced milled together from U.S. Census reports and most it was not recorded—it was a crime against humanity because so-called African-Americans have a difficult time trying to retrace our history back to our native home and land of Africa, which often ends in a dead end (oftentimes when we attempt to reconstruct our genealogy roots or family tree, it only allows us to trace our history back to the American slave plantations). Woodson argued that educated blacks have received a mis-education and it has had a negative impact on their worldview and failure to become economically, politically and socially sovereign and autonomous as a free people. He further argued that American blacks will not come to a true historical realization until they know and embrace their own history and culture prior to Chattel slavery and come to know the great African civilizations of Egypt, Mali, Ghana and Songhai (Carter G. Woodson. Mis-Education of the Negro. New York: Tribeca Books, 2013).

However, we should never overlook early black nationalist race leaders such as Paul Cuffee, Martin Delaney, Henry Highland Garnet, Bishop Henry McNeil Turner, Noble Drew Ali, Elijah Muhammad and perhaps the greatest of them of all was Marcus Mosiah Garvey who popularized the Back to Africa Movement and founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (U.N I.A.) it would be Garvey' s teaching of black nationalism and Pan-Africanism that redefined what it meant to be black and African—he pointed us to Africa by redefining African history, the symbolism, imagery, and created a sense of black racial pride that has been unmatched in American in history. Garvey also published a magazine called the "Negro World" which published rare black history and accomplishments made by Africans in the Diaspora and on the African continent. Edward Wilmont Blyden in his writings also made a tremendous contribution to exposing the world to the extensiveness of African contributions to world civilization. This writer cited the above scholars and activist as an attempt to argue against the white supremacy agenda who has always attempted to negate the historical contributions of black people, perhaps this racist phenomenon has been detrimental to the collective social progress of the people of the United States. This writer sees the potential benefits of implementing African American history as a subject matter to be taught in the public schools as being a first step and positive redress to rewriting the narrative. This type of critical thinking and analyzing possess the potential of producing positive effects by imploring a curriculum and subject to further create cultural sensitivity and diversity in schools amongst all students. My research assessment will also argue that the educational classroom could be used to alter damaging and negative societal and educational stereotypes such as racism, discrimination, and demeaning images.

This writer find it necessary even in 2017 to reflect back on the historical effect that Chattel Slavery (1555-1865) created and produced, it was perhaps one of the greatest crimes ever committed against humanity. Blacks were kidnapped and snatched from their native lands and countries, denied the right to speak their native Bantu languages, stripped of their names, culture, religion, mores, folkways, etc., during the Transatlantic Slave Trade and the Middle Passage. Moreover, sold into Chattel Slavery in which on the plantation, it caused for families to be divided and sold from plantation to plantation.

The former Yale University professor Dr. John Blassingame in his seminal work titled, The Slave Community, analyzed​ the effect that Chattel Slavery had on black slave families and the shaping of the slave personality. Black slaves were prohibited from being allowed to read and write, in which learning was illegal and against the rules and laws of the institution of slavery.

African Slaves could be flogged and whip or even killed, if caught with a book. Kenneth Stampp in his work titled, Peculiar Institution, he surveyed almost every facet of American slave plantation life and he too argued that it was an inhumane and denigrating system (both economically and racially inspired and maintained). The black slaves were eventually allowed to be preached to and taught a Biblical Christian education and initially this was the only allowable formal education approved for the slave. This quasi educational process was initially conducted by the white slave master and later a trained black overseer. The Christian education was steeped in white supremacy ideological theories where blacks were taught that they were the descendants of the Biblical Ham and was a cursed people and they were taught to obey their masters, this social engineering process created a social and psychological models of white superiority and black inferiority (this was the devastation of the white Christian missionaries had on teaching us a slave doctrine in which Tariq Nasheed in his documentary titled, Hidden Colors 4 explores the intent and effect of white Christianity teachings of indoctrination.

Dr. Naim Akbar was a former professor of psychology at Florida State University in Tallahassee Florida. A former columnist for the "Muhammad Speaks" newspaper  under the Honorable Elijah Muhammad known back then as Brother Luther X. Weems (published a powerful little book titled, The Community of Self) and host of other books: Know thyself, Visions for Black men, Akbar's Papers in African Psychology, Light from Ancient Africa, Chains and Images of Psychological Slavery, etc. He became the National Representative of Imam Warith Deen Mohammed and the American Muslim Mission in the late 1970s and because of his political, and cultural views on black nationalism he had a very short tenure with this apolitical Islamic organization. He also was the former president of the Association of Black Psychologist and member of the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations. and became one​ of the premier scholars of the African-centered movement. Akbar as I stated above had written numerous books relating to the black experience. Akbar argued as a social scientist and as an Afrocentric mental health expert that the 300 years dehumanization process imposed on African Americans by Chattel Slavery left a people psychologically and historically scarred. Akbar continues to argue that the images (created lasting false complexities of superiority among white Americans and inferiority complexities among black Americans or ex-slaves). Dr. Joy DeGruy in her book titled, Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome, she substantiated Akbar' s contentions relative to the collective damage that slavery had on past, present and on the possible future psyche of those descendants who share the African DNA (DeGruy argues that the black slaves were never allowed to heal). Akbar stated that this phenomenon was more devastating than the physical bondage imposed on blacks under Chattel Slavery in which white supremacy schools of thought created racial and culture disparities. It led to​ unlevel learning fields that supported educational discrimination, stereotypes and attributed to racism being taught in public and private schools. He pointed out that even the image of the Divine (God and Jesus) was represented and portrayed as being white skinned Caucasian (and European).

The American educational system was built on a curriculum of lacking inclusion (Western Civilization in some instances outright lied and distorted history to the detriment of indigenous people) in which they taught that all the major contributions made in world civilization were made by Europeans and lacked respect and appreciation for indigenous people's culture and heritage (this led to white supremacy, genocide, land thievery, exploitation of natural resources and raping and robbing throughout the planet). This in my opinion justifies the need to teach black history in the public school system in order to right the wrong. Akbar states that white supremacy images, symbols, folkways, rites, sacraments, rituals, etc., taught to African Americans during slavery have created a mental bondage in which caused invisible chains that even in 2017 in some instances it has hindered social progress and has proven to be more devastating than the actual physical chains imposed by Chattel Slavery. Akbar also argued that African Americans have to free their minds from Eurocentric culture and ideals. He counters with a solution with putting forth African centered education that promotes positive self-images and working from a psychological perspective to teach black people the knowledge of self. His perspectives were in ideological line with Marcus Garvey and Elijah Muhammad views on education (Naim Akbar. Breaking the Chains and Images of Psychological Slavery. Tallahassee, Florida: Mind Productions and Associates, Inc. 1996).   

The author Curtis Alexander hails in his book title, Elijah Muhammad on African American Education: A Guide for. African American and Black Studies Program , that Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam had it right, in particular building and establishing their own parochial schools (Muhammad University of Islam), which gave them the latitude to devise a black nationalist centered curriculum. The teaching of black history was essential to the Black Muslims pedagogy and was the center of their ideological educational framework (although this was taking place within a private educational setting, nevertheless, I equally believe that this impacted the course of public education as well). Alexander, although, was not a member of the Nation of Islam, he seemed to be moved by Muhammad's do-for-self, and black independence philosophy, which allowed this group to build self-regulating institutions and controlled the curriculum. This gave the Black Muslims an autonym to control the educational destiny of their schools and children. I think Alexander's research allows us a glimpse into the role black nationalism and religious nationalism has played in shaping and defining the importance of black history relative to American education in the United States. The author further defines the ideological foundation of the Black Muslim program in which they were ostracized, ridiculed and condemned for implementing and teachings the importance of black history in a society that had historically created a white supremacy educational worldview (Curtis E. Alexander. Elijah Muhammad on African American Education: A Guide for. African American and Black Studies Program. Chesapeake, Virginia, 1989).

Dr. Earl Thorpe was a former professor of history at North Carolina Central University in Durham, North Carolina who also taught at Harvard University alongside authoring Black Historians: A Critique he published nine books and over twenty-five scholarly articles (another one of his acclaim books was titled, The Central Theme of Black History).Thorpe's thesis was an evaluation and historical assessment of various timesframes of black historians and/or professional African American historians who wrote scholarly writings and taught black history and history in general, mainly on the college and university level (all of the black historians reviewed by Thorpe had a scholarly passion towards teaching and promoting black history as a curriculum). Thorpe was an advocate of black scholars having the responsibility of creating a scholarly environment that was rooted in empirical objectivity and as a discipline black history would have met the rigorousness of scholarly scrutiny to justify its importance and value to the overall field of American history. Moreover, Thorpe surveyed the historical time frames: 1800-1896, 1896-1939, and 1930-1960. Thorpe cited various scholars and their works to the field and study of black history in which gives the readers an understanding of the intellectualism behind the historiography that helped shape and mold black history. There is no doubt we are standing on the foundation of black scholars such as W.E.B Dubois and Carter G. Woodson and contribution they made to the study of black history (Earl E. Thorpe. Black Historians: A Critique. New York, New York: William and Morrow and Company, 1958.

Dr. John Hope Franklin retired as a professor Emeritus of history at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Perhaps one of the most well respected historians of the 20th century. His book From Slavery to Freedom is the most widely read and used black history text books in the world in which many editions have been published in various languages. Dr. Franklin wrote as a professional historian who seemed more concerned with presenting information that met the academic standards of being scientific and presenting black history as a scholarly discourse. Some might argue that his approach to analyzing black history was more of being in line with bourgeoisie values and with a non-threaten approach to appease the white world of academia. Yet, in the beginning of the book Dr. Franklin surveyed the powerful and great African kingdoms and gives the readers a glimpse into African civilizations prior to European colonialism and imperialism. He argues that black history was essentially American history and should be treated beyond just being an insignificant footnote or an afterthought in United States history. Dr Franklin meticulous surveyed and documented over 250 years of black history from when the first slave ships docked in Jamestown, Virginia in 1619 to the Emancipation Proclamation (1862) and the enactment of the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution that so-called freed the slaves (1865). No one scholar makes a better argument of the importance of recording and teachings black history than Dr. John Hope Franklin (John Hope Franklin. From Slavery to Freedom: A History of Negro Americans. New.York, : Alfred A. Knopf, 1980). 

Willis G.Huggins and John G. Jackson published this book A Guide to Studies in African History in 1934, in which Huggins was an Assistant Teacher of Social Studies at Bushwick High School, New York. Dr. John G. Jackson was known for his most popular work titled, Introduction to African Civilization. This small book standout because Huggins was a social studies teacher in the public school. These two scholars perhaps like Joel Augusta Rogers researched and found African presence and contributions in the so-called 'New World' before the arrival of Europeans. For example, in Latin America, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Santa Domingo, etc., blacks were there even before the Columbus expeditions in 1492, and prior to other European conquistadors venturing into the Americas, but for black students what one perhaps will find astonishing about this work was the historical impact the Nubian Moors in the 8th Century under Tarik Ibn Zaid had on southern Europe, in particular on the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal). The Moors in 711 AD had conquered Spain and introduced pave streets, public and private bathing facilities, lit streets, etc., in Cordova, Seville, and Barcelona some of the Moorish architecture history is well preserved. It was these black Nubian Moors that after the Dark Ages brought civilization throughout European society. Jackson and Huggins desired to prove that black people had a worthy history that was worth mentioning and give it the scholarly recognition it deserved. This research was taking place during the period of Jim Crow and the Harlem Renaissance; and like Dubois, Woodson, Hansberry, Franklin, etc; they all wrote with a passion to uncover facts about the so-called American Negro and yet to equally prove to their white historian counterparts that they possessed the ability to be empirical and objective as black social scientist (Jackson, John G. Jackson and Willis N. Huggins, . A Guide to Studies in African History. New York, New York: The Federation of History Club, 1934).

Dr. Molefi Asante was a professor at Temple University in Philadelphia in history and black studies. Perhaps in the late 1980s and 1990s a group of black intellectuals surveyed academia and determined that African (black people) were not receiving the scholarly attention for their contributions to civilization. The Afrocentric movement created a new level of excitement in African history, traditions, cultures, etc., it was a semi-intellectual explosion, moreover, this movement was being led by the likes of Dr. Leonard Jeffries, IvanVan Sertima, Asa Hilliard, Mualana Karenga, John Henrik Clarke, Amos Wilson, Khallid Abdul Muhammad, Marimbe Ani, Cheikh Anta Diop, etc. This movement as stated above created a reinvigoration for the need to bring black history back into the schools, because Eurocentric scholars had omitted pertinent factual historical information about African and black people in world history and had systematically disseminated lies, distortions and half-truths about African people's contributions to human civilization. Asante did not offer anything new because prior to Afrocentric thoughts and theories Pan-Africanist and Black Nationalist leaders have argued for over a century the need to redefine the history of African people to reflect a historical narrative beyond Chattel Slavery and beyond the Europeans interpretations. Yet, the difference was Afrocentric thought had moved into the world of academia and for the first time on a large scale, it was forcing a different type of debate amongst the scholarly community relative to inclusion (Molefi Kete Asante. Afrocentricity. New York, New York: Africa World Press, 1988). 

Dr. Mary Lefkowitz in her book titled, Not Out of Africa: How Afrocentrism Became an Excuse to Teach Myth as History wrote the anti-thesis as a historical critique to Afrocentricity, which Dr. George G.M. James, Cheikh Anta Diop, Dr. Molefi Asante, John Henrik Clarke, Yosef A. A. Ben Jochannan, etc., argued that western theoreticians had always viewed Africa as an object rather than a subject and saw Africa as the Dark Continent who made no contribution to world civilization. Dr. Lefkowitz was a Humanities professor at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. (she led some of the scholarly attacks against Dr. Tony Martin who authored the book titled, The Jewish OnSlaught: Dispatches From Wellesley Battlefront). She argued against Egypt (Kemet) being black and Nubian and attributed Egypt (Kemet) greatness to having historical relations with Greek society where by Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, etc., have received the credit as being great enlightened master teachers, but George G.M. James in his book titled, Stolen Legacy argued that Greek Mythology was essentially Egyptian Philosophy and they stole their knowledge from the Nubian blacks of Kemet. This writer viewed Lefkowitz contentions as being a scholarly insult because it quasi sought to denigrate the intellectualism of black people as being incapable of introducing world civilization to Europeans and others around the world. The building and construction of the pyramids has mystified Europeans for centuries in which Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop posed the question in the title of his book African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality and unlike Lefkowitz, he made the case that Africa from North Africa down to South Africa was black. Although, Diop understood that due to outside invasions from the Persians, Turks, Arabs, Semites, Greeks, Romans, Assyrians, etc., which led to the  miscegenation in Kemet. However, there was little doubt that the original people that occupied Egypt were black skinned Nubians. This alone beckons the need for black history to be taught in the public schools system.(Lefkowitz, Mary. Not Out of Africa: How Afrocentrism Became an Excuse to Teach Myth as History. New York, New York: Basic Books, 1997).

Lastly, this writer thinks it would be a positive step in the right direction to mandate and include black history as part of the curriculum in United States publc schools with the educational objective of contributing to enhancing racial diversity and helping tear down artificial barriers such as cultural biases, racism, stereotypes and all forms of discrimination in the public school system and outside. Moreover, the teaching of black history has the potential of creating a level of tolerance​ and sensitivity amongst all people who may differ in national origin, ethnic and racial, religious and/or culturally. Finally this writer believes that it could also be used to inspire African American students to be more motivated to achieve academically.

Fahim A. Knight-El Chief Researcher for KEEPING IT REAL THINK TANK located in Durham, NC; our mission is to inform African Americans and all people of goodwill, of the pending dangers that lie ahead; as well as decode the symbolism and reinterpreted the hidden meanings behind those who operate as invisible forces, but covertly rules the world. We are of the belief that an enlightened world will be better prepared to throw off the shackles of ignorance and not be willing participants for the slaughter. Our MOTTO is speaking truth to power. Fahim A. Knight-El can be reached at

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