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Thursday, February 21 , 2019, 6:05 am | Mostly Cloudy 44º


Bill Cirone: Black History Month Is Meaningful Recognition

We have come a long way in our pursuit of freedom and equality for all, but there's still more to do

February has been proclaimed Black History Month, saluting Americans of African-American descent who helped develop our nation in countless ways, including those recognized, unrecognized and unrecorded.

In a recent proclamation, the California State Board of Education cited black American history as reflecting the determined spirit of perseverance in black Americans’ struggle to equally share in the opportunities of a nation founded on the principles of freedom for all.

The state board’s proclamation also speaks of black American citizens who have taken part in every American effort to secure, protect and maintain the essence and substance of American democracy.

The nation has recognized black history annually since 1926. For more than 80 years, Black History Month has been celebrated in February because it is the birth month of two individuals who had a great influence on black Americans: Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.

It is always a meaningful recognition. The recent release of the movie Red Tails showcases the African-American pilots who played such a critical role in helping secure the peace during World War II. That is one recent example of why this recognition is so important.

Black History Month is a time to explore these issues even further, examining where we were as a country, how we have progressed and where we need to go to live up to our principles of freedom and equality for all. The fact that President Barack Obama was elected the first black president in our nation’s history illustrates how far we have come.

Some rhetoric and actions that continue to take place, sometimes in correlation to that historic election, show how far we still have to go. For that reason, it is fitting we continue these discussions during Black History Month.

California’s history and social science frameworks for public schools urge that the curriculum reflect the experiences of different racial, religious and ethnic groups. Our local schools always take part in this important effort.

— Bill Cirone is Santa Barbara County’s superintendent of schools.

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