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The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

States Integrate Black History into Public School Curricula

February 26, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

Every year, students across the country celebrate Black History Month in a variety of ways, but a few states have passed laws that require public schools to include Black history in their curriculum throughout the year.

New Jersey, Illinois and New York have each created a commission to review how public schools in the state are teaching Black history and make recommendations on how to improve the curriculum. The commissions are called "Amistad Commissions" after the Amistad, a Spanish slave ship that was the site of a famous slave revolt in 1839.

One of the goals of the New Jersey commission is "to infuse the history of Africans and African-Americans into the social studies curriculum in order to provide an accurate, complete and inclusive history." It has developed a set of lesson plans which teachers will incorporate into their classrooms starting this fall.

However, four years after its law passed, New York has not yet appointed all its commissioners and the commission has never met.

California, Mississippi, Florida, Arkansas, Colorado and Michigan have also passed legislation regarding instruction in Black history. Florida's law, passed in 1994, also requires that its public schools teach women's history, Latino history, and the Holocaust.

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