February is Black History Month, a good time to study and recognize the contributions and struggles of blacks throughout history, and especially in America.
Black history is about more than slavery and the civil rights movement. It also is about ancient civilizations that built great cities, made important scientific discoveries and built great societies. To not understand these aspects of black history is to deny a proud link to the past and a missed opportunity for all students that could help promote better racial understanding.
Students in Jackson-Madison County schools have access to a civil rights curriculum developed by local educators based on The Jackson Sun's "October 1960" project, which recounts Jackson's part in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. The curriculum details our local civil rights movement, and the contributions of local heroes such as Shirlene Mercer, Dr. Wesley Cornelius McClure, Dr. Walton Harrison and others who led the civil rights movement in Jackson.
In recent years, the gap between blacks and whites in education, income and other areas of American life has been growing. Equally worrisome are significant and growing gaps among blacks themselves in income, parenting skills, social skills, education and community involvement.
Today, blacks are accepted into every aspect of American life and work. But, increasingly, blacks who share traditional American values and opportunities are further and further removed from blacks who haven't moved beyond the economic, education and social limitations in many communities, including our own.
Bridging the gap between middle-class blacks and poor blacks is just as important as bridging the gap between blacks and whites.
Black history, like all history, teaches us that those who seize opportunity in the face of difficulty are rewarded and often prosper. Black History Month is about celebrating the past. Equally important, it is about looking to the future, about moving forward, not as blacks and whites, but as Americans.
Courtesy of the Jackson (Tennessee) Sun newspaper
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.