Black history is rooted in education
As the nation continues to celebrate the history, diversity, and achievements of the Black family as a theme for Black History Month, make no mistake about it, getting an education has always been a core value in the Black American experience, especially after the Civil War and emancipation, a core value equally as important today as it was then.
And just imagine how things might be different and better today if the federal government had invested in Black families throughout the South, treating Black people “as equal citizens in policy and practice,” particularly in the areas of education, jobs and home ownership. And due to that gross injustice, today, Black families are still digging themselves out of the hole the federal government became complicit in digging for them. To tell the truth, America is still paying “the price for achieving full citizenship for Black Americans,” a truth that is not lost on the Black Lives Matter Movement.
In dealing with these sins of the past, the Black family, in part, must resolve and recommit to viewing education as “the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,” remembering that our history as a people is deeply rooted in education. And the future of our race is still dependent on the education of our young people. Now, more than ever, we still have a great responsibility to instill in our children and youth the importance of staying in school and getting an education. The Black family, with a greater interest and drive, must remain committed to raising strong children who must never settle for “just getting by.”
Encouraging our children to stay true to the core value of getting an education and to value hard work might do more than anything else in supporting a lifetime of happiness, prosperity and giving back to the community, for they will be better able to climb the “American ladder of opportunity.” Black youth, let your pride show up in performance, while creating a legacy of excellence in everything you do.
Most importantly though, Black parents have to lead by example, since, at a very early age, children learn by watching their parents. This means parents will have to model the values of hard work, honesty, integrity and excellence.
It was Colin Powell, our distinguished general and first Black American chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who once stated, “Kids don’t pick up training because parents sit around and talk to them about values. Children watch their parents live values.” Powell, himself, a great model of excellence and hard work also declared, “People keep asking the secret of my success. There isn’t any secret. I work hard and spend long hours. It’s as simple as that. There is no substitute for hard work and study. Nothing comes easy.”
As our schools wrestle with the new realities of teaching and learning during a pandemic, parents must support their children’s learning at home.
Larry Sutton is a retired educator who taught at Clinton High School.
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