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Commentary

Integrating African American Experience Into Education

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One chapter in my most recent book, African Immersion: American College Students in Cameroon (Lexington Books, 2015) looks at racial interactions in Cameroon: African American-Caucasian, African-Caucasian, and African American-African. The research finds gross ignorance in public discourse on race relations. But academic institutions neither mandate students to take courses about America’s racial past nor create other avenues for a critical examination of racism in the U.S. Too many young people remain ignorant of the basic facts, and yet are expected to be a part of the solution.

During this Black History Month and beyond, academic institutions must engage in genuine efforts to promote the integration of African American experience into the educational system. It is central to the American story. Education can implode stereotypes and myths which have defined race relations for centuries, and pave a path toward improved race relations. In his The Souls of Black Folk (1903), famed author WEB Du DuBois asked in the closing pages: “Would America have been America without her Negro people?” All of us have an obligation to work towards creating a society envisioned in those sparkling words written by the generation of 1776: “All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Julius Amin is a professor of history at the University of Dayton.