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Remembering our past, redefining our present, reaffirming our future

The Rev. Dr. RB Holmes Jr.

This is the first op-ed in a series addressing the attacks on Black history.

“I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.”  Malcolm X

We have launched a statewide task force in conjunction with the Florida General Baptist Convention, Inc. and its president, the Rev. Dr. Carl Johnson, to demand that the governor of Florida and the State Department of Education, teach Black history accurately, factually and forthrightly. In the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, in the State of Florida we organized a task force labeled, “Teaching Our Own History.”

Carter G. Woodson, the founder of Negro History Week, encouraged us to not sit idly by and allow this system to “mis”-educate Black people.

Our Task Force will present to the government a comprehensive curriculum that correctly and effectively teaches Africa and African American history to students in Florida’s public schools. Moreover, we will develop 40-plus “Freedom Schools” by 2025. We will not sit idly by and allow any governor to erase the accurate teaching of Black history.

The objectives of the Teaching Our Own History” Task Force are as follows:

• To encourage the accurate and unbiased teaching of African American history, culture, experiences and invaluable contributions in the state of Florida and this nation

• To develop strategies and solutions to support and strengthen public education in marginalized communities

• To develop and adequately support 40 Freedom Academies across the state of Florida

• To create significant after school programs for students in Title One schools in marginalized communities across the state of Florida, using an age-appropriate African American history curriculum to strengthen reading, writing and mathematics skills

• To create summer “Freedom Schools” to teach youth the importance of African Americans contributions, self-respect and personal responsibility.

• To empower and encourage the three private HBCUs in Florida to develop laboratory schools on their respective campuses by 2025

• To cultivate and create partnerships with foundations, businesses and philanthropists to support programs and events that consistently celebrate the contributions of African American history, culture, literature, faith and heritage

We all must redouble our efforts to fight for social justice, voting rights, civil rights, diversity, equity and inclusion. The dismantling of programs of diversity, equity and inclusion is shameful and insulting.

Over the next several weeks, selected members of the “Teaching Our Own History” Task Force will publish articles for dissemination through The National Black Press, addressing the critical components for teaching our own history. I encourage our readers to enthusiastically engage in meaningful discussions in their various constituent groups and organizations as we speak “truth to power.”

The Rev. Dr. RB Holmes Jr. is chairman of the Remembering Our Past…Redefining Our Present…Reaffirming Our Future: “The Teaching of Our Own History” Task Force.