Black Quotidian: Everyday History in African-American Newspapers

October 14, 1925

Guest post by Andrew Reda, undergraduate student at Manhattan College.

On October 14, 1925, the New York Amsterdam News ran an article by Charles H. Wesley analyzing of the lack of African-American history in school curriculums at the time (click to view article PDF). American history textbooks were filled with information on European history and its significance to American culture, yet completely ignored African Americans. On the rare occasion that African Americans were mentioned in a history book, they were simply depicted as a group of slaves or even “naked savages” in some instances. Wesley argued that with this disregard for history and culture, young African Americans could not be expected to learn an iota about their own past. As Wesley noted, “It is a sad experience in a child’s life which brings it to the realization for the first time that there is a political, social, and economic difference between himself and his white playmate around the corner.” I found this especially disheartening because an incredible amount of knowledge is molded into a child’s brain during the early years of education, and young African Americans were completely oblivious to their own culture and tradition. This tragically hinders one’s ability to form an identity, a sense of self, and a value in their ancestors past. How could young African Americans truly believe they are equal to their white classmates when the entire history of their race is completely ignored and white history is celebrated and studied extensively in school? This shows that the very document that the United States of America was founded on was incredibly paradoxical as clearly all men were not created equal if the history of African Americans can be entirely ignored in schools without any problem. 

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