The date when Crispus Attucks became the first American to die in the American Revolution, is observed in California schools as Black American Day. At least, it’s supposed to be.
The problem is, no one knows about it.
Here’s the citation in the California Education Code.
37221. Unless closed by the governing board pursuant to paragraph
(13) of subdivision (a) of Section 37220, the public schools shall
remain open on, but shall celebrate with appropriate commemorative
exercises, the following holidays:
(d) March 5, the anniversary of the death of Crispus Attucks, the
first black American martyr of the Boston Massacre, known as “Black
American Day” on which day schools shall include exercises and
instruction on the development of black people in the United States.
In my keynote to the California Council for the Social Studies last March, I presented a study Black Heritage as Gap Closer: Educator Capacity to Provide Culturally-Responsive Instruction in Social Studies. Part of my questionnaire was to discover whether teachers were aware of the state-mandated opportunities to infuse African-American heritage into the daily classroom experience, such as Black American Day, or the dozens of African-Americans mentioned specifically in the content frameworks.
Only 10 percent were aware of at least some of those opportunity and, more importantly, how to use cultural referents like Attucks to teach skills and concepts in the broader curriculum, instead of just doing a ritual citing of “black history.”
Parents should take the initiative to insure that these provisions are carried out. Schools who ignore it are costing themselves funding based on improved attendance and achievement.
With an unprecedented investment in education spending coming down the pike, we must support the research-driven pedagogy that produces improved outcomes for our students.
Don’t let teachers off the hook by just assigning a paper on the new President. There is a much deeper foundation to be explored.
Just in the past 24 hours, I’ve received messages about Jerry Lawson, the black pioneer of the computer gaming industry; and about the tribute to the widow of John Brown, who is buried in the heart of Silicon Valley, in Saratoga, CA.
There’s no time to put black heritage aside because February has passed. Our site californiablackhistory.com opens up such lessons as the role that California played in Lincoln’s adminstration or a list of black historic landmarks in San Francisco.