For the sake of education


In the course of attending schools in Durham, I’ve become accustomed to African-Americans making up a majority of students in my classes.

According to the latest census information, Durham County has a population that is 38.7 percent African-American, 13.5 percent Hispanic/Latino, 4.8 percent Asian and 1 percent Native American.

Honestly, growing up I was never observant of skin color or the nationality of people. Now that I am of an age in which I recognize people’s ethnicity and race, I also wonder more about how our country was formed and the nation’s history.

I’m in a high school African-American studies course where I began to wonder if other schools offered it as an option for a class. Since Durham is known as a city rich in African-American culture and history, I was curious if all students were learning what I am. After some quick research I found that at a number of Durham high schools do offer AA studies — but not all.

In the course of human events is it ever OK to have a part of history not only taken out of the education curriculum or have it downplayed by not requiring it?

For example, did you know that there is proof of an African presence in America centuries before Columbus? Or do you know about the ancient African scholars and libraries of kingdoms like Timbuktu and Kush?

This is where mentoring could help some students.

As a kid, your teachers and parents are often recognized as mentors, but as you grow and develop, chances for communication often gets left out. Look at mentors as the middle ground for comfort and trust— they’re the go-between of our peers and parents. Having a mentor is important because I believe they can fill in where schools can’t.

I think when African-Americans in particular learn about “black history,” having a mentor who understands the history and is willing to teach by tying it into the young African-Americans’ way of life could be a big help. I think this is important because what could have happened to my elders when they were my age could help me to not make what could end up being painful decisions.

Not only learning our history is important but also recognizing that the struggle still continues.

Highlighting the importance of mentors is the focus of the President’s initiative for National Mentor Month. Barack Obama recently announced that January should be national mentoring month and January 15 as national mentoring day. In Obama’s book Dreams of My Father, he mentions having a mentor named Frank Marshall Davis, an African-American journalist and poet.

Because Obama had a mentor, it helped him become the man he is, the President, and it shows how much has changed in African-American history from before slavery until now.

Shouldn’t this be taught in ALL schools?

One thought on “For the sake of education

  1. Nice piece in The Durham Voice. I agree that teaching African American history is important and should be required in the larger context of American history, and this is largely the case now, but requiring an entire class dedicated to African and African-American history is another matter.

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