We all need to study black history

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 4, 2006

Most of us know the names Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr.

But how many remember that Crispus Attucks, a runaway slave, was one of the first casualties of the American Revolution when he was killed in the Boston Massacre?

How many of us were ever taught, for example, that Mary Mahoney was first African-American woman to complete the course of professional study in nursing?

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February is black history month and opportunity to recognize the names and events that once were missing from many history books and from history lessons in school.

Actor and Mississippian Morgan Freeman recently made headlines when he said he didn&8217;t want a separate month for black history &8212; because it is American history.

In an ideal world, Freeman&8217;s vision would make sense. Black history is is world history; it is American history; it is Natchez&8217;s history. Black history should be studied every day, not just during February.

But we don&8217;t live in that ideal world. We are only a few generations removed from a time when black people felt intimidated at the ballot box and couldn&8217;t shop in the same stores as white people.

Those generations since &8212; both black and white &8212; need to know the stories of the men and women who shaped our nation and the world. Until we can ensure that their names will be valued in history books and in history classes, setting aside a month to emphasize their contributions is not too much to ask.