States are trying to erase black history in schools — it’s up to students to stop them

I sat at my desk in front of my computer, heart pounding, palms sweating, staring at Zoom. I knew I would never forget this moment. This was a moment that changed not only my life, but the lives of thousands of students across Delaware. It was the legislative hearing where I defended a bill that would require schools statewide to teach black history—my history.

at the time, Our Measure to Require Districts and Charter Schools to Teach Black History and Culture One of the most comprehensive in the country, momentum was on our side. But in just two years, the tide has turned.dozens of states now limit black history educationEven college boards roll back plans for an African-American studies course.

This confederacy of cowardice is dishonorable, and it’s up to young people like me to stop it.

I didn’t always think of myself as an activist. At the beginning of 2020, if you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have said ‘trauma surgeon’. But after the murder of George Floyd, we can no longer pretend that black bodies and black voices are valued the same as white bodies and voices. As one of the few black girls attending Middletown high school, I quietly embraced microaggressions and cultural slaughter because I believed my voice was too small to make a difference. . But with thousands of black activists rebelling around me, I decided it was time to join them.

establishment of Delaware Black Students Union was my first step. My school was initially told it would be divisive to create a club for black students, so I started a group not just for my own school, but for all Delaware students. rice field. When we found community, we found our power. Together, we began to push back against a system that had been holding us back our entire lives.

Then, when fellow student Tyler Bush and I got in touch with state legislator Sherrie Dorsey Walker to push for black history requirements statewide, the real battle began.

Over several months, we participated in and led conference calls with educational professionals and experienced legislative writers. We had to learn how to create a language that would not only give teachers creative freedom, but would also give schools no loopholes or workarounds. Helped draft legislation requiring school districts and charter schools serving 12 students to teach subjects such as African and pre-Black Diaspora Black history and culture, and the importance of slavery in the development of slavery Did. Black people’s contribution to America’s economy and to American life, history, literature, economy, politics, and culture.

He then coached students and supporters on how to effectively speak to a committee of legislators. We sat at that wooden table as expert witnesses, answering the committee’s questions and defending our bill. We also listened to hours of public comment on the bill, including considerable opposition. I was scared. I wondered what I was doing there.

I’ve always known the importance of this bill, but it wasn’t until June 17, 2021, when House Bill 198 passed into law, that I realized the historic significance of my actions. The pride, happiness and hope in the eyes of my peers made me no longer want to be a trauma surgeon when I grew up. Today, I am studying political science at Howard University before becoming a lawyer.

Like me, today’s youth are starting to realize our power. After school shootings, escalating climate change, and a pandemic, we’re saying, “Enough!!” Across the country, we are standing up to fight for our rights.Florida students walk outside Kentucky students are fighting for equal education Hair policy without discrimination, and Texas students are protesting anti-trans policies. These are just a few examples of how students have realized their power. Like me, they have found that small voices come together to be powerful.

So to all students with limited access to knowledge: I know it seems hopeless. I stood in your shoes, fought the same battle, and won. You can too. your voice is powerful. Do not be afraid to voice your concerns to legislators and representatives. Be consistent and keep coming back and pestering people. let them hear your voice. And rely on your community. There is power in numbers. don’t stop fighting. They win when you lose hope.

And listen to the legislators, representatives and elected officials who claim to be the voice of the people. We are in good trouble, and rightly so. Youth are entitled to speak about issues that affect their past, present, and future. Don’t just sit at the table, lend me your mic.

Talia Hyland is a co-founder of the Delaware Coalition of Black Students. She teamed up with Rep. Sherri Dorsey Walker and her fellow students to draft what became House Bill 198, mandating black history education in Delaware.

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