In honor and recognition of Black History Month, on tomorrow, beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the fellowship hall at First Baptist, 900 College St., Clinton, the local branch of the NAACP and the local chapter of the NC A&T State University Alumni Association are hosting a community conversation. This event will include a panel discussion, exploring the theme, “The Crisis in Black Education.”
Historically, the formal educational story for the vast majority of blacks in America didn’t begin until after the conclusion of the Civil War and emancipation in 1865. What an inspirational story, it was one that was filled with a spirit for the love of learning. It was as if a whole race of people was trying to go to school, all at once—Sunday school, day school and evening school. A people , my people, who had been denied the right to learn to read and write displayed an eagerness and thirst for education, inspiring the whole race.
This is the history of our black past that our children and youth need to hear again and again, helping them to understand the great resolve our ancestors acquired for learning, many generations ago, while realizing the power of dreams. Our ancestors had a tenacity that empowered them to keep pressing on toward their future hope, never calling it quits in pursuing their dreams. And that historic resolve for learning has become an important part of our history and heritage, something we must revive and continue to use to empower our students to succeed in school and in life today, using it as a recipe for success.
Fittingly for 2017, the observance and celebration of Black History Month will allow us to tell the story of how education has been the most impactful influence on changing the condition and status of blacks in America. Education has really played a crucial role in the history of blacks in this country. And that role is probably more crucial today, living in this 21st century society. And young folk, as you remember the story of your ancestors, those who struggled so you would have the right to pursue the American Dream, let’s not let their struggle be in vain. Don’t let anyone or anything stand in your way. You must have that same fervent desire to learn and to strive.
Now, to the parents and the collective black community, the road to success begins at home—home is where the start is. Get fired up for learning and resolve to value education. Parents, your success is your children’s success. Help your children be exposed to models of success, early and often. Let your motto be: engage, engage, engage! As a community, we have to reclaim an active involvement in fostering learning and education for our children, making it an urgency.
As centers of learning for all, our schools must do a better job at honoring the contributions and achievements made by black Americans, extending beyond February.
Larry Sutton is a retired teacher from Clinton High School.