I want to frame this piece before we proceed. This is not a piece to persuade anyone to see things my way or from my perspective. This post is about education.
On Monday, the new Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, made a statement that perfectly illustrated the disconnect with historical events that significantly impacted black people in our country. The exciting notation to add is that Betsy DeVos is not an educator and lacks formal education based on research and application.
DeVos presented a severely flawed statement, completely misrepresenting facts about African-Americans in our country and the role of HBCU’s play. HBCUs are attended by African-Americans overwhelmingly.
DeVos’ statement called historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) “real pioneers when it comes to school choice,” this is after President Donald Trump held a meeting with several HBCU leaders on Monday. Though the discussion was billed as an hour-long listening session, the listening session lasted 15 minutes, before the participants were brought into a photo op.
To claim HBCU’s have been a choice for education scoffs at hundreds of years of torture, rape, assault, brainwashing and murder called slavery. It avoids the discussion about what happened to African-Americans attempting to attain an education, both during and following slavery.
DeVos forgot to mention during slavery that it was a punishable offense if a slave taught themselves or if they had been taught to read. DeVos forgot, or maybe she did not know that slaves could have their tongues cut out of their mouths for trying to sound smart.
DeVos forgot to mention that following the abolition of slavery that most American institutions did not welcome African-Americans and/or did not protect them from persecution. Thus the land was allocated and resources were gathered to provide a safe learning space for African-American students.
If we continue down this path, segregation from educational institutions, water fountains, housing, bus seating, restaurant seating and even libraries were a standard, not a choice.
African-American students were provided outdated books, books with missing pages, tattered pages and vandalized buildings for attempting to attain an education.
The choice Mrs. DeVos speaks of was not much of a choice. It was the only safe and viable option to attain an education. As a result, parents had to protect their children from pursuing education physically; the national guard was called in to protect young men and women from attack for their choice to attain an education.
Mrs. Devos was not wholly wrong; because of the choices people like my grandmothers, grandfathers, and great grandparents, individuals like myself were able to choose to attend two HBCU’s, Hampton University and Texas Southern University.
To reference facts listed throughout this post, Click Here.
The Library of Congress also provides a history Click Here.
Click Here to read more at ABC News.