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Reflection on Black History Month

First published in the March 24 print issue of the Pasadena Outlook.

In honor of recently recognized Black History Month, I’d like to bring your attention to the year 1954, dubbed “higher ground,” in the anthology “My Soul Is a Witness, A Chronology of the Civil Rights Era, 1954-1965.”
I’d like to follow in the footsteps of my colleague Valerie Alexander, who is a true ally and expert in the area of unconscious bias, equity and inclusion. She authentically shares in her most recent post a tiny slice of Black history.
The irony and reality of recent legislation must be understood in the context of history. As Valerie points out, nearly half the states in our country have already passed or are actively working to pass laws that prevent teachers from even discussing our true history. This is actually happening in 2022.
Have we forgotten the image of 6-year-old Ruby Bridges being escorted to school by U.S. federal marshals in 1960, six years after segregated schools were made illegal?
It is indeed a terrifying sight to see the people photographed in that event — they are outraged and filled with violence toward a harmless child for risking her life for a desegregated education. This important historical event and Brown v. Board of Education, where the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that racial segregation in public schools violated the Fourteenth Amendment, may now be considered “divisive” or “cause discomfort” for students.
As many have already observed, if Black children can experience racism, then white children can learn about racism.
Recent legislation and teacher anti-critical race theory bills are the 2022 version of the resistance to desegregation.
We have to accept the fact that large sections of the United States cannot accept the truth of history and are willing to take legal action to ensure that the accomplishments of the civil rights movement are effectively decimated.
This Black History month, I am sobered to contemplate the words of philosopher George Santayana: “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

David Samuels


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