Waynesboro High students write about the value of teaching Black history

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Three Waynesboro High School students from African Studies teacher Lorraine Dresch submitted letters to the editor about teaching black history. We’ve included parts of each letter below.

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Personally, I learned the most about black history this year than ever. I also discovered that a lot of the things I was taught over the years were sugar coated information or misinformation. Everybody’s heard of MLK, Rosa Parks, etc. and I’m so grateful to them and everything they’ve done, but for years we’ve heard from the same people and talked about them very briefly.

If children learn about black history from an early age, they are more likely to have a voice and to tell right from wrong. Slavery, segregation, discrimination, etc., had no age limit, so why should these topics be briefly addressed to specific age groups?

Until this year, I knew little or nothing about the history of Waynesboro, and this town has a lot of history as well as accomplishments that are not recognized as they should be. We must take note of the events and people who helped make Waynesboro what it is today. The only way for us to unite is to know and understand the things that separate us.

KALELA JOHNSON, ninth year

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When we are taught history, it is taught to us from the colonized point of view. The black history given to us is simply a focus on slavery, ignoring that black people had full and loving lives long before colonizers reached the African continent, and almost never acknowledging the black figures of story outside the bounds of their “slave” status. Waynesboro Public Schools, while being very diverse environments, are still affected by this issue.

Black students deserve to be taught about more than slavery and civil rights. They deserve to learn the stories of their predecessors: those who were doctors, scientists, dentists, academics and more.

Rosenwald School, now known as Rosenwald Community Center, was once the only school where Black and other minority students in Waynesboro were allowed to go until 1965. This piece of history is only a short drive from Waynesboro High School, but most students wouldn’t even know that from their local history.

KALISSA MYERS, ninth year

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Continued: “Dignity and Respect”: The Stories Behind Black-Owned Businesses in the Shenandoah Valley

It’s easier to learn when the people you’re learning are like you. It makes the subject accessible, because most African American personalities have gone through some kind of racial downfall, and it’s sad to say, but most of us can empathize in some way or other. another one. It’s inspiring to see someone like you go through so much and still do great things.

There are countless untold stories and hidden truths that many don’t know, like the stories of all the African American towns hidden under the lakes, the story of Rebecca Lee Crumpler or even the story of how we were vaccinated. There are so many African American figures that can be used to teach a range of subjects.

For students, this would be a great opportunity to learn more about African American culture. If others were to learn why we have certain cultural practices, or why we speak, act, or dress a certain way, it would eliminate a tremendous amount of ignorance and deepen our understanding of social issues.

ALANA GIPSON, Grade 11

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