Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Black History of the White House

Most of us have grown up with a particular framework about American history and particularly the history of the presidencies. For the most part it has been a cleansed history, meaning that the foibles, errors and mistakes that were made by presidents were essentially not part of that history, particularly when it comes to race. Correcting that was part of the motivation for doing the book. We can see even today that this continues to be a battle. The decision in Arizona, for example, to ban ethnic studies, meaning that the histories of people of African descent, Native Americans, Latinos, and Asians are more or less written out of the curriculum now in Arizona. Even more recently, this has been happening in Tennessee where a group of Tea Party activists also wants to rewrite history in a way in which only, as they see it, the positive parts of the lives of the Founding Fathers are taught, and any history related to what happened to African Americans as slaves, or what happened to Native Americans, who were frequently massacred, all of that should be written out. So we are always in a battle over how we understand and how we present history. (source: Political Affairs)

Clarence Lusane

Students, and I’ve been teaching close to 20 years now at the university level – each generation of students seems to forget what happened not only in the past, but almost immediately what has happened in front of them. The students who are coming in now, for example, are students who matured in the early 2000s, and we so have students now who think of Bill Clinton much as they think of George Washington – he’s an historic figure. So it becomes important that we revitalize and help them to either remember what they’ve forgotten or to learn what they have never learned. I think it has been a difficult transition, in many ways, for the universities, because the students who are coming in, this last generation, are coming in trained or in many ways educated through the Internet, and that means that a lot of the more rigorous kinds of book reading and learning that generations before went through, even with the imperfections, probably gave somewhat of a broader sense, or a more rigorous sense of history. Although students today have access to more information, they are coming with less knowledge. That’s what I’m finding and many of my colleagues are finding. (source: Political Affairs)

Official histories of the United States have ignored the fact that 25 percent of all U.S. presidents were slaveholders, and that black people were held in bondage in the White House itself. And while the nation was born under the banner of “freedom and justice for all,” many colonists risked rebelling against England in order to protect their lucrative slave business from the growing threat of British abolitionism. These historical facts, commonly excluded from schoolbooks and popular versions of American history, have profoundly shaped the course of race relations in the United States. (source: Teaching A People's History)

The Forum with Michael Fauntroy: Clarence Lusane from Michael K. Fauntroy on Vimeo.

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