It’s Independence Day – Why We Need To Teach Real History In Our Schools

It’s been over two years since the death of George Floyd while in police custody. Last year was the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre. Last year UNC trustees also denied tenure to Nikole Hannah-Jones, a Pulitzer Prize and MacArthur Foundation genius grant winner (and UNC-CH alumna) in what is obviously a political move in response to her 1619 Project.

And remember this? The push to stop the teaching of anything that policy makers seem to remotely associate to Critical Race Theory in public schools.

Rep. Tim Moore said in that tweet above last summer that “schools should be places of dignity and respect for ALL students and teachers.”

Now look what is happening in Texas.

The idea that we as NC public school educators must use a certain slant to present history in order to make all seem “equal” is rather seditiously ironic since the very body (NC General Assembly) that screams “respect for ALL” is the same body that used racial lines to draw gerrymandered districts, incorporated a school grading system that systemically stigmatizes poverty, and tried passing a voter-ID law that was struck down because of its targeting of minorities.

That word “all” is interesting. Why? Because throughout the very history that is being disinfected by modern state lawmakers, the word “all” seems to have been more exclusionary, especially to lawmakers of the past.

When Thomas Jefferson penned the opening part of The Declaration of Independence what did he mean by “all”?

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that ALL men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Did that “all” include non-white, non-landowning, and non-male people? If it did then NC will need to find a really sanitized way to explain why women and minorities were not granted the right to vote until generations later.

Or what about the Pledge of Allegiance after its final revision in 1954?

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for ALL.”

Jim Crow laws were still in effect in 1954. It would take another decade for the Civil Rights Act to be passed in the very country that holds that same Declaration of Independence and Pledge of Allegiance sacred.

“All” simply has not always meant “all.”

Almost forty years after CRT was first introduced as a way for third-year law schools students to examine how race, society, culture, and the law interact, NC lawmakers all of a sudden did not want students to have a chance to even acknowledge those very forces as they interact in society today through an academic lens crafted decades ago.

The same lawmakers who used a study of how race, society, culture, and law interact to enact legislation and draw district lines do not want students whom they deem old enough to get married (14) to have the opportunity to critically think about the very factors that shape so much of their world – a world they will need to keep together long after most of the older white lawmakers in Raleigh are long gone.

If you look at the personal web pages of many of those non-educators who are obsessed with molding how history is presented in schools they never have worked in, then you will probably see in their “resume” a profession of faith and where they go to church to worship the man who once said “the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).

This willful attempt to challenge how history is “supposed” to be taught so that we as a society do not have to confront our ugly truths is dishonest and divides us even more in a country that is supposedly “one nation under God” and “indivisible.” This is on top of that move a few years ago by the same NC General Assembly to take away a year of American History from the required curriculum to have students take a personal finance course which purposefully does not address issues surrounding poverty and how accumulated wealth works for different people in our society.

It is often mentioned that if we do not learn from history then we are bound to repeat it. What might be more egregious is that if we refuse to learn from history we keep our future generations from MAKING positive history and do better than we did.

We as a society so much need these future generations to be free and make positive history. Hopefully, our posterity will be able to look back at this time in history and honestly see that we confronted our own history.