Let's start with a confession. I love history. If I wasn't a mercenary, I would be one of those folks working at Gettysburg or the National Constitution Center.
Maybe I was just lucky. I grew up in a tiny community. Too big to be considered rural, but way too small to be considered suburbia. I fell in love with history in the fifth grade. My teacher made it interesting. I was lucky enough to have good civics and history teachers. One of whom was a black man. He taught history in a chronological order. He did not segregate the course of study. He also made sure that there were periodicals in our library for his students to complete our research.
Most of my classmates simply hated history class. Mr. W made all history interesting. His approach was a combination of lectures, research papers and student presentations. While he participated in the community sponsored Black History Month's celebrations, he seemed to be annoyed that it was even an issue. I suppose I picked up his attitude.
It is 2007 and this is still an issue? History teachers should discuss all historical figures. By teaching it in as one course or only during the month of February it will automatically generate a push back. Immediately, those who cry foul embrace their whiteness. Their argument is never just teach history. It is to ignore the issue or demand equal treatment. HUH? It sounds silly to me too.
When I was in college had obtained, in addition to my BA, a designation in racial and ethnic understanding. My best African-American history professor was Jewish. During the early eighties there were only two chocolate professors on campus. With a minority population of less than 5%, the administration was not in too much of a hurry to focus on the recruitment of minority professors.
Until black history is incorporated into history class early and often, this dialogue will continue.