The classroom is a space where students should have the opportunity to learn about everything—both the good and the ugly, as well as the more challenging parts of history. Yet, there is a growing trend of attempting to erase Black history.
In recent years, this disconcerting trend has become particularly noticeable in some Republican-led states, such as Florida and Arkansas. These states threaten to distort the pages of history by erasing the profound contributions and struggles of Black people.
Continue reading to discover a list of 10 essential books that belong in the current school curriculum.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, for example, has defended the state rejecting the “AP African-American History” curriculum.
Similarly, Arkansas abruptly eliminated all AP African American studies courses via the Arkansas LEARNS Act which forbids discussions on various subjects in educational settings, including critical race theory (CRT). From banning books to prohibiting entire African American curricula as a whole, the decisions and attempts to ban Black history are truly bizarre.
Black history helped build the foundation that is the United States as we know it today. In an era where information is readily available, the deliberate suppression of historical narratives is a cause for concern. Efforts to ban certain books from schools and libraries not only hinder educational growth but also perpetuate the cycle of ignorance. These bans have struck at the core of works that explore Black history, culture and the ongoing struggle for justice.
In addition, there have been cases where schools have come under scrutiny for discriminatory practices against Black students solely based on their hairstyles and clothing. And now those same forces want to attempt to withhold education on Black history from all students?
It’s important that schools teach all students so that they can understand the trauma and challenges Black people once faced and continue to face because of a white supremacist societal structure. Teaching Black history is not meant to shame other races, but that is the argument trumpeted by opponents of accurately teaching Black history.
But here’s the thing — schools can try to prevent the learning of Black history, but Black history is more than just textbooks and classrooms. It’s written in books, displayed in museums and handed down from generation to generation in communities.
In an effort to counteract this suppression, various literary works have emerged as powerful tools.
From ‘The Hate U Give‘ to ‘The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story,’ keep reading to find 10 essential books as identified by NewsOne that demand their place in today’s school curriculum.
1. “Chains” by Laurie Halse Anderson
“Chains” by Laurie Halse Anderson is a historical novel following Isabel, an enslaved girl, as she fights for freedom during the Revolutionary War while serving a cruel Loyalist family. The book explores her resilience and determination amidst the challenges of the era’s political turmoil.
2. “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” by Malcolm X and Alex Haley
“The Autobiography of Malcolm X” is a book about Malcolm X’s life, written with the help of Alex Haley. It tells how he grew up, his involvement with civil rights, and his ideas about race and equality.
3. “Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Zora Neale Hurston
“Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Zora Neale Hurston is a novel that follows the journey of Janie Crawford, a Black woman, as she navigates her path of self-discovery and independence in the 30s.
4. “Black Boy” by Richard Wright
“Black Boy” by Richard Wright offers a detailed account of his upbringing in the South, including his experiences in Mississippi, Arkansas, and Tennessee. The book also narrates his journey to Chicago, where he builds his career as a writer and becomes associated with the Communist Party.
5. The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story by Nikole Hannah-Jones
“The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story” by Nikole Hannah-Jones looks at American history starting from 1619, when enslaved Africans arrived in Virginia. The book explores how slavery shaped America, including its influence on politics, economics, and culture. Through essays and different viewpoints, it offers a fresh perspective on the country’s history.
6. “How to Be an Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi
‘How to Be an Antiracist‘ is a thought-provoking book that challenges readers to actively confront and dismantle racism. Kendi presents a guide to understanding and taking action against racist ideas and systems, advocating for an antiracist approach that goes beyond mere non-racism.”
7. “I Am Not Your Negro” by James Baldwin
“I Am Not Your Negro” is a book by James Baldwin that talks about how Black people were treated unfairly. It shares Baldwin’s thoughts on civil rights leaders and how racism affected America.
8. “Twelve Years a Slave” by Solomon Northup
“Twelve Years a Slave” is a book by Solomon Northup about his own life. He was a free Black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery, and the book tells about his struggles as a slave for twelve years and his eventual fight for freedom.
9. “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas
“The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas is a novel that follows Starr Carter, a Black teenager, after she witnesses the fatal shooting of her unarmed friend by a police officer. The book explores Starr’s journey as she navigates the aftermath of the tragedy, dealing with grief, activism, and the complexities of race and identity.
10. “Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice” by Phillip Hoose
“Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice” is a young adult nonfiction book by Phillip Hoose. It recounts the experiences of Claudette Colvin in Montgomery, Alabama, during the Civil Rights Movement. The book sheds light on Colvin’s significant role in challenging racial segregation, providing insight into her experiences and contributions during that pivotal time.