Successful Black Parenting magazine welcomes this article contribution written by Kimberly A. Morrow about the best ways parents can teach African American history at home. Today, it is critical that our history does not get rewritten, glossed over, white-washed, or erased. Our oral and written histories are at stake with many states, as well as a former president, banishing curriculums such as the Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times’ 1619 Project and Critical Race Theory (CRT), which both tell the truth about American History.
– Janice Robinson-Celeste, Publisher of Successful Black Parenting
For more from this author, watch our vidcast interview about how to Teach African American History At Home. Click here to listen to the podcast version of this interview.
As parents, we are our children’s inspiration, their role model, and their first teacher. In the midst of America’s post-George Floyd tragedy and its long-overdue racial reckoning, it is imperative that we instill confidence in our children by teaching them African-American history.
As a credentialed history teacher, I am often asked by parents who may not have been the best history students, “How can I teach my child history if I didn’t really learn it when I was in school?” I usually ask them, “If the history lessons you were taught in school were somehow connected to your personal life, would you be more willing to learn history?” They often reply with a resounding yes!
“If the history lessons you were taught in school were somehow connected to your personal life, would you be more willing to learn history?”
As a child, I fell in love with learning history because my dad told family stories passed down from generations. Surprisingly, they were often in relation to the lessons I was being taught in class, minus the inclusion of African-Americans. His stories made learning history more relatable.
Years later, as a college student, I was assigned a genealogy (family tree) project by my Western Civilization professor, Herman “Skip” Mason. This assignment taught me how to document and validate many of the stories my father had shared with me as a child. To this day, I have made it a regular part of my class’ history curriculum. Throughout my twenty-five years of education, I have learned the best way to teach children history is to begin by teaching them about their family’s history. This approach will ensure contributions of African-Americans to the United States and World History will be learned by African-American children as they learn about their families and become more invested in learning African-American History.
For example, when I was in high school, we were being taught about World War I, but neither the textbook nor the teacher taught us about the contributions made by African-American soldiers. Fortunately, I was able to share with my teacher and classmates stories my father told us about my grandfather who served in World War I, and share some of his experiences as a Black soldier deployed to France.
In addition, my dad talked about the courageous Tuskegee Airmen or Red Tails as they were often referred to. Growing up, he told me how they saved the lives of white fighter pilots during WWII’s conflict. He also stated how unfair it was that the German Prisoners of War (POWs) were often treated better than the Black soldiers who were risking their lives to fight for our country. While my father was not a history teacher, he knew how to tell stories passed on to him by his parents.
Learning about defining moments in U.S. History and sharing family stories can be fun and engaging. Television programming can also be a valuable resource in learning history. Reading stories to your children from books about and by African-Americans is also a useful tool. Lastly, spending a day visiting a museum can also add to your child’s learning experience. If you’re stuck on a subject, you can always seek guidance and suggestions from cultural experts, booksellers, or librarians.
ABOUT KIMBERLY A. MORROW
Kimberly A. Morrow M.Ed. is an accomplished educator, author, and speaker worth knowing. She is highly engaging and provides proven practical strategies for quality teaching that any educator can go back to their classroom and implement tomorrow. Some of those can be found in her book 8 Pearls of Wisdom: A Parenting Guide — Empowering Children Is the Way to Go! She holds a Master’s degree in Teaching & Curriculum from Harvard University Graduate School of Education. Morrow is the founder of Doris L. Morrow Academy. She is an HBCU graduate and a devoted member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc.