by Erica Merrell, Wild Iris Books
In the early nineties, a Florida law was passed requiring that school curriculum incorporate “teachings about the history of African Americans, including the history of African peoples before the political conflicts that led to the development of slavery, the passage to America, the enslavement experience, abolition and the contributions of African Americans to society.”
Today less than 10 of Florida’s 67 counties are compliant, and Alachua County is not meeting the standards. (The feminist within us cannot help but mention that the “contributions of women” are also included in this law.) Local activists have worked for over a decade on attempts to broaden the scope and celebration of African American history in our public schools with little permanent change.
Multi-disciplinary community members have created the Alachua County African American History Task Force (ACAAHTF) to renew these early activist efforts and coordinate the journey forward.
In addition to scheduling a town hall session, the task force met with Alachua County Superintendent Dr. Owen Roberts. During the meeting we invited him to help us create and implement a new vision for curriculum and professional training. Our meeting was positive and we hope that Dr. Roberts will continue the dialogue and join us at the town hall meeting in October.
Let us be clear that the end goal of the ACAAHTF centers around the practice of INFUSION. We are not interested in anything less than people of color being represented, acknowledged and celebrated through all curriculum.
Supporting a handful of mainstream black heroes during the month of February is not enough, curriculum addendums are not enough, elective choices are not enough. Only infusion is enough.
The Task Force is also strongly committed to an infrastructure that trains and monitors compliance of school staff and administration. On a deeper level our passion tells us that we can create a shift in thinking, opening up the hearts of our educators and helping them release internalized biases that tell them that black children cannot learn and are not worth the teaching.
Please join us on October 26 from 2-4 pm when we will host a town hall meeting at the Downtown Public Library to educate around our mission and organize the future steps of the task force. This will also be our chance to visually show the administration the community force behind this initiative. We need your support and we hope that you will share this event and bring your friends. We will create the strategy so that our community can transform the fabric of our school systems, not because it is the law but because it is the right thing to do. We hope you will stand with us.
For more information or to donate refreshments for the town hall meeting, please contact ACBHistoryTH@yahoo.com.D