Sunday, July 21, 2024

HISTORIC BLACK VEGAS | Do we need a Black history workshop for young people?

March 18, 2022 by  
Filed under Highlights

Claytee D. White

Do we need a Black history workshop for young people?


One year before the Mayflower brought the Pilgrims to Plymouth, Massachusetts, the White Lion landed at Point Comfort near the English colony of Jamestown, Virginia. The White Lion’s passengers included 20–30 Africans who helped to build the country. As the early colonies grew, every one of them engaged in the trade of Blacks — not just the colonies in the South.

Little-known facts like these are why we should endeavor to learn about this American history together. Let’s read two books over 2022: “The 1619 Project” by Nikole Hannah-Jones and “Caste” by Isabel Wilkerson.

Overall, the purpose of this month’s article is to ask a question: Would you send your children to a Saturday morning history workshop for 2 hours to learn our history? Would you attend with them? Where in the Westside would you recommend holding this program? Should there be classes other than history? Where are our children lacking the basics — math, science, writing, reading?

When we arrive at 1905 in this history series, we would include Las Vegas and the early Black population. Do you know that two of the five founders of the Las Vegas NAACP were women? Do we know when and why the national NAACP began and where that happened? We have enough brilliant people to teach their favorite period in history, but every presentation would have to be vetted for historical accuracy. Are we ready for this?

Last week, I interviewed Lisa Delpit. What an honor! She is a recipient of a MacArthur Genius Award! She is an educator who has written so many books that she had to stop and count them. One that I plan to read is “Other People’s Children: Culture Conflict in the Classroom.” Do your children’s teachers, the good ones even, teach your children as they would teach their own? Do they understand Black culture? Do they understand the trauma caused by racism, that trauma that we experience daily? We have to help our children. Do you agree? How can we assist them? They still go to detention more often than other students. Why? We are loud. We ask hard questions. We wear our clothes and hair with swagger, confidence, and a bit of panache. We think differently because of the life experiences we bring into the classroom. Are these causes for punishment?

A few months ago in a community presentation, a young man about 16 years of age asked me if the streets on the Westside had letters for names (A, B, C, D, etc.) because early Blacks could not read? I was stunned. Who told him that? Doesn’t he know the truth about Black intelligence, about the pursuit for education as soon as the Civil War ended? I did not come up with the best answer until after the group had left UNLV’s campus. As soon as the correct answer came to mind, I hunted down the group and gave the group’s escort the answer. What answer would you have given?

Have we waited too long?

“How long? Not long. No lie can live forever.” — MLK, Jr.

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