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The state of Virginia has a sordid history with Black America for a variety of reasons dating back to 1619. Jamestown, Virginia, the settlement where the first documented enslaved Africans were brought to American shores, is foundational to America’s original sin.
Racism and anti-Blackness in Virginia aren’t narrowed to its geographic ties to the transatlantic slave trade, nor a relic of forgotten history. Its soil was the host site of the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville a mere three years ago. There are monuments to the Confederacy that many of its residents are adamant about keeping in the public sphere.
Even the state’s current Democratic governor had to issue an apology for dressing in blackface while he was a student at Eastern Virginia Medical School.
Reconciling with history through a revitalized curriculum
The Virginia Board of Education appears to be taking progressive steps in reconciling with the state’s troubled racial history by making substantial edits to its history and social science curriculum.
Per a report from Roanoake, Virginia’s WSLS-TV, The Virginia Board of Education approved a list of curriculum edits that would add additional Black history public education requirements. The changes to the curriculum would be sweeping across elementary, middle, and high schools, no longer focusing on slavery as the starting point of Black history.
“It just warms my heart that here in Virginia, we’re looking to get it right,” Dr. Crystal M. Edwards, superintendent of Lynchburg City Schools, told WSLS.
Christonya Brown, Virginia Department of Education’s history and social science coordinator, described the pending changes as a “watershed” moment and a “big win” for students and educators.
“It means as they (students) are entering their adult life they are able to see the contributions of not only the group they belong to but others as well. They are able to see the contributions and the voices, that African Americans have contributed to not only our national history but the history of the commonwealth,” Brown told WSLS.
As the state of Virginia as a whole embraces a greater degree of liberalism in its politics, the proposed amendments to schools’ curriculum is another indicator of many of its public officials’ attempts to remove the stains of racial animus, the bedrock for American slavery was well-known for.
It is an effort worthy of celebrating.
About the Author
Donney Rose is a poet, essayist, Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellow, advocate, and Chief Content Editor at The North Star. He believes in telling how it is and how it should be.