Black History class to be implemented next year

Black History class to be implemented next year

Livy Maillet, Editor

Recently, in a Whitefish Bay High School board meeting, the members voted to include a Black History class in the curriculum next year. The class is to be taught by Mr. Gray, a Whitefish Bay graduate who created the curriculum at his past teaching job in Texas.

In regards to teaching in Texas compared to Whitefish Bay, Mr. Gray says that “The difference between where I was in Texas (Richardson), and Whitefish Bay is night and day. Richardson, more specifically Berkner High School, is in an urban area that is predominantly Black and Hispanic. White students make up very few of the population. In fact, I would have classes there where there would not be a single white student.” This is a large contrast to the Whitefish Bay High School population, which is basically made up of white students with little minority representation. Overall, Mr. Gray’s teaching experience in Texas “was one of the most amazing things I have ever experienced. To be able to see so many successful people with brown skin that were not in sports or entertainment. This is something we often take for granted, but to live and be a part of an environment where I look just like everyone else is a special feeling.”

While teaching in Texas, Mr. Gray had the opportunity to write the curriculum for a Black History class. The principal at his high school “introduced me [Mr. Gray] to a curriculum writing team and we began coming up with what we wanted the student to know. I have since rewritten the curriculum to include the earliest history of African Americans, to the most current Black History, understanding the difference and why it is so important to understand how we got here.”

In addition to giving his background, Mr. Gray gave a brief summary of the class and its goals: “When we think Black History, people immediately jump to slavery or the Civil Rights Movement. Well, without asking them what type of slavery or which Civil Rights Movement, I want them to understand that Black History is not just oppression. The oppression we have faced is only a part of all of the amazing things we have accomplished and overcome. Black History is American History, and this course will fill in all of the blanks our U.S. History books fail to do.”

The class will include tough conversations, projects, give back to the community, and “learn about the good, the bad and the ugly of American History and the contributions of Black Americans.” Mr. Gray also encourages his students to ask questions and have fun with the class, and is not only excited to teach this course, but also to get to know his future students.