===============================Board Action Summary (BAS)=================================
New Program: Yes X No • Modified Program: Yes • No X
Subject: Prince George’s County Public Schools
Authentic and Unadulterated Black and Brown History
Abstract and Highlights
Goal: For the purpose of examining our current kindergarten to 12th grade curriculum; identifying deficiencies and inaccuracies in the curriculum; and embedding Authentic and Unadulterated Black and Brown History throughout the PGCPS curriculum and determining the viability of adding Black and Brown History course as a graduation requirement; for the purpose of implementing truthful, culturally inclusive education on the topic of history of Black and Brown people in the Prince George’s County, in Maryland, in United States, and throughout the world to provide quality education for the students of the Prince George’s County School System.
Whereas: Prince George’s County is the most affluent majority African-American community in the nation and our school district is composed of over 80% students of color, and we recognize we have a moral and ethical responsibility to teach accurate, authentic, and unadulterated Black and Brown history to provide a quality education for our youth, improve our community, expand trust in education and fortify the mental well-being and identity of our students and educators;
Whereas: School District curricula across our nation have served as extensions of institutional and systemic racism by perpetuating white-washed information which minimizes the responsibility and acts of government and citizens against Black, Brown, Asian, and indigenous peoples, such as invoking “state’s rights” to defend the Confederacy, claiming that the American system of slavery ended in 1865, or omitting the genocide of indigenous nations by European settlers, the United States military, and governmental policy. This system of education does not represent the true historical legacy of Black and Brown people, leading to the erasure of authentic Black and Brown history in our schools and an assault on the identity of Black and Brown students and educators. As examples, the dedicated focus on Martin Luther King’s nonviolence and erasure of his struggles against poverty, imperialism, and housing injustices; the erasure of Malcolm X’s contributions to the Black freedom struggle in both the United States and the world at large; the removal of the role of Black women, Black LGBTQ+ individuals, and many more from the Civil Rights Movements and other activism throughout American history; the notion that Martin Luther King was popular before his assassination; and, perhaps most importantly, the omittance of the grave dangers that our ancestors faced while fighting for the most basic of human and civil rights in our nation, both North and South of the Mason-Dixon Line. Our history must not be reduced to a handful of prominent African American leaders and sanitized moments in history, and must be truthful to the accounts of American history. This includes context of the roles within the fight of freedom, justice, and equality for various civic organizations such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the Black Panthers, religious organizations such as the Nation of Islam and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and historic D9 fraternities & sororities such as Alpha Phi Alpha and Alpha Kappa Alpha.
Whereas: We recognize American History courses and American society itself has perpetuated an infinite loop of negative stories, television shows, and movies that unfairly stereotype Africans, African Americans, Latinos, Asians, and indigenous Americans, and those images have inaccurately depicted white individuals as superior and depicted Africans, African Americans, and all people of color as inferior as a means to further justify, rationalize, and perpetuate a culture of white supremacy that is harmful to the education of our youth and a threat to their identity and well-being. The legacy of enslavement, criminalization, and historical whitewashing which seeks to dehumanize and denigrate the character, intelligence, beauty, and other inalienable features of Black and Brown people has spread to every facet of American society, including education and literature, and to this day taints the consciousness and morality of the nation, serving as yet another obstacle to equality, justice, and freedom for all;
Where as: Prince George’s County Public Schools has several school buildings named after racist slave owners, such as Thomas Johnson Middle School and Gabriel DuVal Senior High School, who upheld and maintained the inhuman and cruel system of chattel slavery in our county, our state, and our nation. Schools named after individuals that built their wealth and prominence by oppressing African Americans, have majority Black and Brown students walking into them today. The Lansdale Sasscer building in which we meet for this vote today is named after a staunch segregationist who opposed civil and human rights for Black people and came from a family of former slave owners in Upper Marlboro. The NFL team that is based within our county bears the name of a genocidal slur for our indigenous neighbors. The names bestowed upon our buildings of governance and education have deep meaning and must be updated to reflect those who are represented and educated within them;
Whereas: Prince George’s County’s history itself is filled with a rich legacy of Black Excellence, and we have living history with us in our community. Our students must understand how Washington D.C. Mayor Marion Barry (Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc) helped build the Black middle class of our region, created jobs and opportunities for Black citizens, and birthed the Black mecca of excellence that is Prince George's County today. Our students must know that large portions of Bowie started off as a plantation and now, in 2020, has its first black mayor in Timothy Adams ( Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.), and that the current Chief and Administrative Judge of the 7th Judicial Circuit in Maryland, Sheila Tillerson Adams (Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.), started off as the first black woman judge in the county's history. Delegate Arthur King was the first Black Delegate elected outside of Baltimore City and was a prominent member of the Prince George’s County NAACP. Our local legacy of Black excellence includes, but is not limited to, all-time NBA talent Kevin Durant, legendary DeMatha coach Morgan Wooten, and Wayne Curry, the first Black County Executive in American history.
Whereas: Our students must know that Prince George’s County has transformed from a rural white enclave that voted for segregationist George Wallace in 1972 into the wealthiest Black majority county in the nation and a bedrock of support for Jesse Jackson in 1984 & 1988 and Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. Our state was the birthplace of Black freedom fighters Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and Gloria Richardson. The first Black woman elected to the State Senate in our nation, Verda Freeman-Welcome, was a Marylander. Baltimore Congress of Racial Equality Chairman Walter P. Carter organized desegregation demonstrations from Baltimore to Ocean City. The first Black Congressman from Maryland, Parren James Mitchell, was a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus and the first Black graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park. There are many Black Americans who invented necessities such as the air conditioner and the refrigerator, who bravely fought in World War Two, made scientific advancements, lectured in institutions of knowledge, and otherwise contributed greatly to the advancement of culture, quality of life, and improvement of American society.
Whereas: Our students must know that Black people have governed, and governed well, from the dawn of Reconstruction following the Civil War, to the mayoral offices of Harold Washington in Chicago and Marion Barry in DC, to the congressional offices of Representatives Shirley Chisholm, Adam Clayton Powell, John Conyers, Barbara Lee, and Ilhan Omar. Black freedom fighters such as Angela Davis, Kwame Ture, Malcolm X, Shirley Chisholm, Adam Clayton Powell, Ella Baker, James Baldwin, Dorothy Height, Fanny Lou Hamer, and countless others are essential characters in the story of our youth and their historical impact is interwoven in their lives every single day, as are the stories of Brown freedom fighters such as Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez. The African continent, the place of origin for all people and a recent area of emigration for many members of our community, holds a rich legacy as well. In spite of several hundred years of colonialism, invasion, and a sustained assault by European influence, African nations fought for their collective independence and achieved it despite overwhelming odds. As descendants of Africans, the stories of Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Thomas Sankara of Burkina Faso, Nelson and Winnie Mandela of South Africa, and Patrice Lumumba of the Congo hold great relevance for our youth and our community.
Whereas: Central, South American, and Caribbean nations, where many of our community members hail from, have a strong history of producing artists, writers, scientists, musicians, and more figures of inspiration in spite of colonization and domination by the European powers. The stories of Simon Bolivar of Venezuela, Fidel Castro of Cuba, and Toussaint Louverture of Haiti hold great relevance for our youth. These stories of triumph in spite of systemic racism and oppression will instill hope and raise the self esteem of an entire generation, just as an accurate account of the truth will make our students culturally competent and conscious of the rich legacy of their ancestors. These stories are essential for our youth to understand their identity and history.
Whereas: Teaching real authentic Black and Brown history will help contextualize contemporary events such as the historic Bridge to Excellence in Public Schools Act of 2002 ( Thornton Commission) that led the way for the Kirwan Commission, which was just vetoed by our Governor. Understanding the history and relevance of the HBCU lawsuit filed to benefit four state universities in Maryland and recent updates in voting rights for Marylanders will help our students appreciate the tangible sacrifices of the generations before them and help provide a roadmap for their current struggles in our society. Understanding the history of their ancestors and how important history is to understand the ongoing events of the world will serve direct educational and mental benefit to our youth;
Whereas: We understand that our Black and Brown youth will never rise to their fullest potential until they know their origins in the world and the society in which they live, and we know they come from a rich legacy. One of the gravest casualties of the system of white supremacy is to make Black and Brown people believe they are truly inferior because they’ve always been inferior, a lie to maintain systems of colonialism and oppression. Proper historical analysis will begin to undo the damage of Eurocentric, white supremacist which omits essential narratives while trumpeting untrue propaganda, and begin to heal the mental well-being of Black and Brown youth. This truthtelling is particularly important while our nation is governed by a President who has repeatedly attacked the very dignity and humanity of Black and Brown people, denigrated the quality of the nations that our community members hail from, insulted the largest City in our state, and accepted support from white supremacists;
Now, therefore, be it resolved that: The Board of Education directs the Academic Achievement Committee and the CEO to examine our current kindergarten to 12th grade curriculum; identify deficiencies and inaccuracies in the curriculum; and embed Authentic and Unadulterated Black and Brown History throughout the PGCPS curriculum and determine the viability of adding Black and Brown History as a graduation requirement; for the purpose of providing truthful, culturally inclusive education on the topic of history of Black and Brown people in the Prince George’s County, in Maryland, in United States, and throughout the world to best provide quality education for the students of the Prince George’s County School System.
Now, therefore, be it resolved that: The Board of Education allocates up to $100,000 to hire a Black and Brown history expert such as Cornel West, Angela Davis, Bell Hooks, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Kimberly Moffitt, Micheal Eric Dyson, Lester Spence, George Musgrove, or Antoine Banks and/or partner with local HBCUs such as Howard University, Morgan State University, or Bowie State to aid in the curriculum writing process. This curriculum of historical education will serve as a framework throughout the United States as a model for how to educate our youth on their history, their identity, and the society in which they live.
Budget Implications: Up to $100,000
Schools Affected: All Schools.
Persons Preparing: Edward Burroughs (Board Vice Chairman)