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View Diary: Black history month (8 comments)

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  •  Talk to a black person over 65.... (13+ / 0-)

    How true is that?

    I used to teach a college course on urban planning and part of the course was an assignment for each student to write their urban history--in short--how they ended up in the city they were in.  All of us are part of a diaspora, of sorts.  The object was to find out what brought them and/or their familes to a city and analyze it in terms of the principals they learned in class.

    The African American students always complained the most when I delivered this assignment.  Many of them came from broken homes, etc... I would sit down with them and help them map out a strategy of asking their relatives about their families...whoever they could find.  So they would ask Aunties, Grandmas, second cousins once removed, etc... and find out the most incredible stuff.  Mind blowing stuff.  "Your Great Uncle was a share cropper."  "Your cousin was run out of his home town by the Klan."  "Your Aunt is really your mother, but she wanted to get her college degree, so your Aunt agreed to raise you..."

    I think those histories were some of the best I ever read.  When you make dry subjects like economics and demographics personal, you begin to understand them in the deepest way.  I hope those students went on to do awesome things in their communities with the understanding that it is the community dynamic itself that influences the histories of families--and ultimately the history of the nation.

    I hope they no longer saw "black history" as a boutique subject, but one in which they were actively writing and hopefully exploring on their own.

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