With the future of urban America increasingly tied to the daily lives of Black people, history is at the heart of educational choices and practices for both Black and white children. Local Black educational and advocacy efforts have reaped great results in raising graduation rates, improving academic performances and cutting school dropout rates. However, preservation of local Black heritage has failed to become a cultural priority in urban districts.
This collection of essays addresses the unevenness of Black history within urban school curricula, highlighting the importance of investing in local Black historical history and a culture that is central to Black communities. It goes beyond the typical conversation of Black “marginalization” and examines the real-world impact on Black success and participation in urban education. Authors discuss the various challenges that attend the efforts of school boards, superintendents, and city councilors to incorporate and maintain Black history as part of the urban school curriculum.
A few states, such as Texas, are being praised by Black advocacy groups for new policies that emphasize Black history in school curricula, with adequate investments in Black museums and local history museums. Their work is of particular concern to Black parents because the Black-owned businesses that typically anchor Black neighborhoods are greatly threatened by rent increases and the consolidation of big-box retail into urban neighborhoods. Black families have little choice but to move, and once they do, the urban neighborhoods their children call home vanish. This ecological process is often overlooked in educational conversations, but the knowledge and legacy of Black families deserve to be prioritized in public schools.
I am hopeful that this collection of essays will ignite a renewed sense of optimism and energy among urban planners, city hall officials, educators, school board members, and Black families about the role that Black history can play in shaping a 21st-century urban education and culture.