Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Is African American History Still Relevant

In light of it being our last day in class, I began to ask myself what I had taken away from it and why I wanted to take it in the first place. We learned a lot this semester and I thought it would be fitting to reflect on our changing views on African American History and its relevancy.
This class interested me because it is a different type of history. Everyone knows the basis of African American History: Slavery, Lincoln and Emancipation, Jim Crow and Lynching, Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement, and eventual societal integration. But these concepts are only focused on minutely in general history classes, with little detail being presented. An issue that I have with African American History is that in mainstream America it seems to be only relevant during the month of February because it’s Black History Month.

I really enjoyed this class because for me it filled in the missing gaps of the advancement of the African American Community, and the development of America as a whole. It is one thing to have someone tell you, “These are the events that took place, and this is how it made this group of people feel” but it is a different experience when one sits down and reads the reactions and feelings coming out of the mouths (or the hands) of the people that were directly involved with it. We were able to accomplish this through our readings, which made learning about this subject a little more personal. Additionally, our readings did not produce stagnant emotions; certain things probably made you feel indifferent, some things may have made you angry angry, and some stories may have seemed disturbing. 

I think African American History classes are relevant and beneficial because they purposely make people uncomfortable, especially our generation. I feel it makes us the most uncomfortable because some may feel that it is not relevant to us because it is not explicitly occurring in our lives. Not too many people want to talk about slavery, because everyone is aware of how morally corrupt the whole concept was and it feels awkward to discuss in a room full of black and white people. There aren't too many young adults that are thrilled to discuss segregation because it happened so many years ago, and not in this time. But I think this generation needs that extra force. We need to be pushed to talk about these matters so that we can ensure that they definitely will not happen again, and its a huge part of where we all came from, not just blacks. At times I feel as if history focuses more on the triumph rather than the struggle, and that’s what I took most from this class. It is fine to celebrate past triumphs, but if you do not know the process of getting to that point, the victory is almost meaningless.

Even though all inhumane practices and racism occurred in the past, it is still relevant to our lives; to a certain extent it still exists, we may not be cognitively aware of it. That’s why classes like this are valuable; they broaden comfort zones and make us more cognitively aware of how our world functions.

What do you think you took away from this semester? Do you feel this history is relevant to you?  


  1. The most important thing I took away from this semester was that it is necessary to take a look at History through the lens of different cultures. History is in no way linear. Each group affects the other's development. And by gaining a view of each cultures development separately we can create a clearer picture as to what makes America the way it is today and possibly the direction in which it is heading.

  2. As an African American, this history is extremely relevant to me. Before taking this course, I only received the textbook information or the "master narrative". This course has taught me that there is more to my culture than simply the Civil Rights' Movements.

  3. This is the first class I have ever taken that solely talked about African American History and to be honest, it’s almost like a breath of fresh air. As an African America educated in a public school system, I definitely feel like there is very little emphasis placed on African American History. If I did not come from parents who were aware of this issue and therefore went outside of the box to make sure I was well educated on my race and culture, I would probably be somewhat clueless. In America, your typical United States History classes cater to the white majority. They leave a little session to address slavery and the civil rights movement, but that is primarily it. In my opinion, African American Studies is a fairly new concept. There is still more people to be educated, and more material to teach because this is predominately our only source of obtaining knowledge.