Black history needs more recognition
February 16, 2007
February marks the annual celebration of Black History Month. But, why is it the only month out of the entire year that is designated to black history?
The history of many prominent foreign nations is taught in university classrooms across the country on a daily basis. Attending UW-River Falls, students often find themselves enrolling in history courses revolving around the Latin American, Asian, Native American and European civilizations, mostly because they are offered every semester and fulfill general education requirements. With the exception of an occasional reference to slavery, black history seems to go unnoticed.
The lack of black history offerings is somewhat disturbing, especially living in an era of equal opportunity. When perusing the undergraduate catalog, one will find that the only course offered with a focus on black culture is African American History (History 207).
That course was last offered during spring of 2005 — and only one section was available. The listing in the course catalog states that the class is offered every other spring semester. But for some reason it was not available as a selection on eSIS this semester. Instead, the course will be offered during the summer. Those students who are curious to find out more about African American history will not be able to gain more education on the topic unless they are willing to take three hours a day out of their schedule for the first two weeks of summer. If a summer session is not feasible, students will have to wait another two years before it may be offered again.
Considering UWRF is within reasonable commuting distance to the Twin Cities, which are highly diversified, it is surprising the course is not offered more often. At UW-Stout, an African American history course is offered every semester. UW-La Crosse offers four different courses related to African American studies and UW-Superior offers six options.
Black history is pertinent throughout the year, not just in February. Those who want to learn more about the culture and origins associated with black history shouldn’t have to wait four semesters before they are given the option to enroll. They shouldn’t be forced to wait for the Black Student Union (BSU) to educate the campus community every February either.
BSU has done a terrific job in getting the word out about the significance of Black History Month, holding several events on campus and in the surrounding community. With so much emphasis on international studies and diversity awareness at UWRF, it would make sense for the history department to add more courses based on black and African history, or at least offer more sections of the existing course. Being taught more about black history, aside from slavery, is extremely important to our understanding of the culture and overall academic development.