This month and every month, we celebrate Black history. Teaching Black history requires honest teaching about white supremacy and oppression alongside the long legacy of Black genius, innovation, creativity, and resistance. Remembering this and advocating for more accurate reflections of history in public education is vital to ensuring all children are empowered, enfranchised, and thriving in a multicultural democracy.
Here are ways you can join us to celebrate Black history year-round:
Support CDF-Texas Freedom Schools. Public education in Texas today, especially our social studies TEKS and standards, too often fails to properly prepare students to be active, lifelong community members. The Children’s Defense Fund invests in students through advocacy for better education standards and through our Freedom School program. CDF-Texas Freedom Schools offer free K-12 afterschool and summer enrichment programs, teaching a culturally competent curriculum and preparing students to be a part of a multicultural society where they play an active role in social issues.
CDF Freedom Schools have roots in the Mississippi Freedom Summer Project of 1964, when college students volunteered to provide Black youth in Mississippi with rich and accessible educational experiences. The Freedom School program in Texas has offered programming to assist literacy, increase self-esteem, and instill a love for learning for 27 years. Students leave the program better prepared to be informed and participatory members of our democracy and to unlock their full potential.
Support the freedom to learn. Texans must stand up for the freedom to learn for our Freedom School scholars and all Texas children. CDF-Texas encourages you to pay attention to the actions of your state and federal representatives as well as your local and state school boards. School boards around Texas, including Keller ISD and McKinney ISD, have seen turmoil in school board meetings and parent requests for outright banning books that touch on sexuality and race. Some, like Granbury ISD, have bowed to this political pressure and removed books from public library shelves. We must pay attention to the actions of our school boards, speak up against attempts at censorship, and vote for school board members who reflect our values.
Celebrate and support representation in literature: To celebrate Black History Month, we highly recommend reading The Skin I’m In and The Life I’m In by Sharon G. Flake! These titles explore the journey of self-love, love for your skin and your culture, and elaborate on navigating life while experiencing bullying and how one comes to be a bully. We also recommend Derrick Barnes & Gordon James’ I Am Every Good Thing, which celebrates Black boys and encourages self-confidence and love.
Celebrate Black history in your day-to-life: We’d like to shoutout Cecilia Joseph, Director of Operations for CDF-Texas, and Carolyn DeVaughn, former Community Outreach Coordinator, for their years of service to the children of Texas! Carolyn has dedicated over a decade to this work, and Cecilia has given almost 2 decades (17 years!) to improve the lives of Texas children.
Thank you for supporting CDF-Texas and committing to celebrating Black history with us year-round.