Every Learner Everywhere

Why Schools Should Offer Courses on the History, Culture, and Politics of Minoritized Populations

Every Learner Everywhere Celebrates Black History Month

Education, whether in elementary, secondary, or higher education institutions have been seen as a way for Black people and communities to resist the narrative that Black people are intellectually inferior. When Carter G. Woodson founded Negro History Week (NHW) in 1926, he saw it as a way to provide a space and resources to critically educate students about their history. The grassroots network of Black teachers used this week not only to lionize individuals and narratives, but also to teach students about racial progress, and as well as shared and collective responsibility. They developed assignments and curriculum to provide students with the tools to succeed. Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), were developed to train people in trades and as educators, and became a space for the formation of activists, artists, business owners, and leaders. Their continued operation has stood as testament to Black investment and creative thinking in the face of the changing landscape of higher education. Furthermore, students at HBCUs were at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement, Black Power Movements, and social justice movements from the nineteenth to twenty-first centuries.

Black History Month is not a token. It is a special tribute—a time of acknowledgement, of reflection, and inspiration—that comes to life in real and ongoing activities throughout the year. We invite you to join us in celebrating Black History Month as we recognize the achievements and contributions of Black students and digital learning champions in higher education who are inspiring others to achieve success.

Anissia Fleming, Student at Tennessee State University and Every Learner Student Intern, shares her perspective:

I have greatly benefited from taking multiple classes relating to a particular marginalized community. My community. These courses were Black Politics, Black Arts and Literature, and African American Philosophy which solely correlated with African Americans right on. Not only were the three classes vital to my degree track, program of study, and future career and goals/aspirations, but it would be an absolute dishonor to the African American race and the founding of Historically Black Colleges and Universities if courses like the ones I have listed were not offered to the students then, now, and forever on these campuses.

From my perspective, courses as previously listed are necessary in equipping students with the knowledge and tools needed in order to succeed in advancing intellectually and thriving in the post-graduate world as well as understanding aspects of life from different points of view in a general sense. That being said, a specific thought that remains constant for me is the fact that courses like these should be voluntarily offered at all colleges and universities in order for Black voices to be heard and for there to be a clear understanding that all things, especially subject matters in college, can not be simply understood from one avenue of thinking.

All things considered, I had the esteemed pleasure of attending an HBCU myself, Tennessee State University to be exact, and each of the courses were taught by Black professors. All of the classes were thought-provoking and each to its own impacted me in various positive ways. Whether I learned something new, had an idea challenged, had to destroy an old mindset, or my love for politics grew due to the knowledge being obtained, I am grateful to have partook in such compelling courses focusing on the perspectives of African Americans and how they affect the race overall, freedom, advancement, and so much more.

Colleges offering classes on the history, culture, and politics of minoritized populations is important for several reasons. These classes:

Promote understanding and empathy: By studying the experiences of different groups, students can gain a deeper understanding of the challenges and triumphs faced by minoritized communities. This can help to foster empathy and compassion, and break down stereotypes and prejudices.

Challenge dominant narratives: Traditional history and political science curricula often focus on the experiences of the majority group, neglecting the stories of marginalized communities. Studying these groups can help to challenge dominant narratives and provide a more complete picture of history and politics.

Prepare students for an increasingly diverse world: As the world becomes more interconnected, it is important for students to be prepared to interact with people from different backgrounds. Studying the history, culture, and politics of minoritized populations can help students develop the skills and knowledge they need to be successful in a diverse society.

Empower students from minoritized backgrounds: For students from minoritized backgrounds, studying their own history and culture can be empowering. It can help them to understand their own identities and place in the world, and it can give them the tools they need to advocate for themselves and their communities.

Contribute to a more just and equitable society: By promoting understanding, empathy, and critical thinking, courses on the history, culture, and politics of minoritized populations can help to create a more just and equitable society for all.

In addition to the benefits listed above, offering courses on the history, culture, and politics of minoritized populations can also help to:

Attract and retain a more diverse student body: Students from minoritized backgrounds are more likely to attend colleges that offer courses that reflect their identities and experiences.

Enhance the quality of education for all students: By exposing students to a wider range of perspectives, courses on minoritized populations can help to improve critical thinking skills and deepen students’ understanding of the world around them.

Promote Inclusivity in Academic Disciplines: Integrating the history and experiences of minoritized populations into various academic disciplines helps challenge Eurocentric or ethnocentric biases. It encourages a more inclusive approach in fields such as history, literature, sociology, and political science.

Develop Cultural Competence in a Diverse Society: As societies become more diverse, having a culturally competent workforce is essential. Education on the histories and cultures of minoritized populations helps prepare students to engage effectively in a multicultural and globalized world.

Encourage Empowerment and Representation: Learning about one’s own history and culture, as well as the histories and cultures of others, can empower individuals and communities. Representation in educational curricula validates the experiences of minoritized populations, fostering a sense of pride and belonging.

Overall, there are many compelling reasons why colleges should offer classes on the history, culture, and politics of minoritized populations. These courses can benefit students of all backgrounds, and they can help to create a more just and equitable society for all.

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