A Tool for Liberation


When we learn about black history in the classroom, the curriculum focuses mostly on slavery or  the Civil Rights movement. We do not get to learn the history of why the Civil Rights movement initially began. A majority believe it is due to segregation, however, a big reason for the movement was the high number of lynchings and other acts of violence. Black history is a fundamental part of American history and it should be taught that way. 

First, if we as a people want to educate ourselves on the history of African Americans in the United States, we first need to look at how the narrative of American history is taught. We are taught about the founding fathers and the great things our presidents have achieved. Daud Mumin is a Copper Hills Alumnus who was the Social Science Sterling Scholar and has since graduated from college with a Justices Studies Major. He explains, “Education itself is a tool for liberation. It promotes social change, learning, and knowing better. Ultimately, the goal is [that] we as a society would do better. Learning about why race has been really prevalent in America can help us understand the roots of Anti-Blackness and White Supremacy.” 

The Montgomery Legacy Museum is a Museum in Montgomery, Alabama. Its exhibits are focused on the enslavement and mass incarceration of African Americans in the United States. There is a lot to discover from this museum, however, a notorious exhibit highlights the stories of those who have been lynched. These stories are not intended to terrify visitors about the past of this country but to show you how far humans can use hate to justify their actions. Learning these stories can prevent that type of hate from happening again in the next generations to come. Learning about the past can help us understand the protests that are happening now.

Learning about black history is not just focusing on the past, but looking at today’s issues as well. Copper Hills’ Black Student Union created a dance for the culture assembly, with the idea of educating the student body. Choreographed by President Mary Ehounou and Secretary Aryonne Johnson, BSU performed the dance with the intent of telling the story of growing up as a black woman in this world. “It has mixtures of being of African American and African roots,” Johnson said. She continued, “We started off with a lyrical song building up slowly to the reality of the world.” In the last song that played in the performance,  a prevalent lyric heard was, “it is bigger than black and white.” Ehounou’s  biggest take on this lyric’s message is, “We need to start educating ourselves and so as a society we can rise above these issues.” 

There are a couple of things you can do right now to learn more about African American history month. Consider reading, The Autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr., The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, or Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. These books give you a good insight into the lives of African Americans both currently and during the civil rights eras. There are also classes you can take at Copper Hills to educate yourself. One option is HUMA 1100, a humanities class that highlights the different perspectives of humanity, and is taught by Ms. Catten. The other is Ethnic Studies, taught by Mr. Jensen. Offered in both regular and concurrent enrollment, it is a beginner’s class that analyzes history through the experiences of people of color in America. Taking the opportunity to celebrate African American History month by educating yourself can open your eyes to new perspectives and help you to see the struggles of others through a different lens.