Erica Buddington says schools must teach Black History beyond February

EXCLUSIVE: The acclaimed education leader and CEO of the Langston League says Black history curriculum exists -- but schools need to prioritize it.

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As February comes to an end, it may be tempting for schools to put away their Black history-focused lessons and get back to business as usual. But for acclaimed education leader, Erica Buddington, properly teaching a new generation of Black students requires centering their stories.

In a recent interview with theGrio’s Natasha S. Alford, Buddington opens up about the curriculum taught in our schools and why she founded the Langston League, a curriculum firm that teaches educators how to create culturally responsive material for students of any background.

Read More: Oversimplifying Black history: What schools do wrong

“It really was a brainchild in 2015 when I was working at a job where I felt a lot of the instructional material did not reflect the kids that I was serving,” Buddington explained in a previous interview with theGrio. “So that’s anything from the books they were reading to some of the theories we were sharing with them and the ways in which, you know, the teachers were providing said instruction. And I’m like, there has to be another way.”

In the era of COVID-19, schools have an opportunity to rebuild and reimagine educational systems that have been proven not to serve our children, particularly Black students. Buddington is unapologetic about calling out the ways a eurocentric-only educational curriculum overlooks entire communities, leaving many Black kids to wonder where they fit in.

Our curriculum thrives on nationalism, and there’s nothing wrong with being proud about where you come from, but when your history, instruction, English instruction, everything is talking about just the pride and, you know, the founders of this nation. What it does is it negates the stories that are part of this American legacy, those Black stories, those indigenous stories, those stories.

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“I get broken-hearted when I talk to educators and they say to me, ‘We just can’t find it or it’s not there.’ It’s there right. And then they say, well, how do we get here?” Buddington told Alford. “It’s intentional. It’s been designed this way. We’re only supposed to focus on one thing. And that is very clear when we look at what’s been said in front of our children when they’re in classrooms.”

Buddington’s call to action to teach culturally-relevant history beyond Black History month is a powerful reminder that educating our children ultimately lies with us — whether we do it ourselves or challenge schools to step up.

Watch the full interview with Erica Buddington above and stay tuned for more conversations with Black education leaders on theGrio.