WNEM CBS 5 Flint: Senator introduces bill to increase awareness, understanding of African American history in schools

U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) introduced a bill to increase awareness and understanding of African American history across Michigan schools through expanded access to programming from the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Peters said the 1619 Act would provide federal funding to support African American History educational programs through workshops and professional development activities for educators.

According to Peters, the bill is co-sponsored by 15 Senators, including U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (MI).

“Michiganders and Americans across the country are demanding we work together to address bigotry, hatred, and systemic racism. While I know we can meet this moment by working together, a central part of that effort must include ensuring that this generation – and future generations – of students can learn about and fully understand American history, including the African American experience,” said Senator Peters.“Black history should not only be recognized in our public schools as something that happens one month a year, each February but something that is a larger part of the curriculum throughout the year. I’m proud to introduce the 1619 Act, whichwould help educators overcome barriers to teaching about African American history by providing federal funding and promote awareness and understanding among students.”

According to Peters, the 1619 Act would additionally:

  • Expand the National Museum of African American History and Culture professional development programs, through activities such as local, regional, and national workshops, teacher training with African American history education partners, and engagement with local educational agencies and schools
  • Require the museum to create and maintain a centralized website for African American history, where educators can find curriculum materials, best practice, and resources
  • Prioritize support for schools that currently do not offer African American history education programs
  • Organize and promote local, regional and national workshops and teacher training with African American history education partners
  • Encourage individual states’ education agencies to work with schools in order to integrate these programs within their course curriculum

“As we search for ways to come together in order to tackle the systemic racism that has stained our society for centuries, reimagining how we teach our students about African American history and culture is a top priority,” said Senior Vice President for Advocacy and Policy & Director of the Washington Bureau, NAACP Hilary O. Shelton. Providing more of our educators the opportunity to access the resources needed to impart these lessons on their students is critical to securing any progress we are able to make, and we commend Senator Peters, Senator Casey and Senator Rosen for spearheading this effort.”

According to Peters, some schools are not required to teach students about African American history and educators can face barriers including a lack of funding to access quality resources, a lack of awareness of where to find resources or a lack of knowledge of how to develop or incorporate curricula.

Peters said the 1619 Actwould recognize the importance of African American history at the federal level, provide $10 million in funding over five years, and expand the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s education programming to teachers across the country.

Peters said the funding will specifically be available to support high school teachers, middle school teachers, school administrators, and prospective teachers who engage with quality resources on African American history. He said this will help allow students in schools across the nation to learn more about African American history as well as teach valuable lessons from the African American experience along with the economic, political, social, cultural, and other contributions generations of African American leaders have made to our nation. 

By:  Whitney Bryan
Source: WNEM CBS 5 Flint