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Forbes: Black History Is American History Says Rep. Marcia Fudge With New Bill

Forbes: Black History Is American History Says Rep. Marcia Fudge With New Bill

Erin Spencer | Forbes Women

Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge has now spent over 30 years in public service. Today she serves as a Representative of the Eleventh Congressional District of Ohio and keeps busy serving as chair of the Committee on House Administration’s Subcommittee on Elections and chair of the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Nutrition, Oversight, and Department Operations. She’s no stranger to speaking out when something doesn’t feel right and her colleagues will tell you she has a natural ability to bring the sometimes lofty, abstract conversations of the Capitol down to the real world. Inquisitive by nature and a pragmatist at heart, Fudge isn’t particularly keen on putting a bandaid on an issue—she’s the gal with the shovel out to dig up the roots. Today, metaphorical shovel in hand, she’s going back to basics with a bill aimed at rerooting the teachings of American history in U.S. schools. 
 
Fudge’s bill, the Black History Is American History Act, which now counts over 130 cosponsors from the House, aims to mandate the inclusion of Black history as a required component of the American History and Civics Academies’ competitive grants administered by the U.S. Department of Education. Additionally, it would encourage continued inclusion of Black history in tests administered by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the largest continuing and nationally representative assessment of U.S. student success. Simply put, it would ensure that in order to qualify for federal grants, American history lessons would need to include Black history and that students everywhere would be tested on the subject matter. 
 
Fudge says the inspiration for the bill came after yet another Black History Month seemed to come and go marking “yet another year without ensuring that Black history is viewed as an integral part of American history.” At 67-years-old, Fudge is disappointed to see that not much has changed in the education system in regards to teaching Black history from when she herself was in school. “Black history was not taught in the public schools I attended. I learned Black history from my family, church, community organizations, personal research and reading,” recalls Fudge. 
 
Now, she often thinks of those who didn’t have those opportunities, who might not know the proud legacy of Black history that has, in so many ways, shaped the America we know today. What Fudge was not formally taught and instead learned through nontraditional avenues is that Black history is, in fact, American history and believes it’s time that understanding makes its way to history books and classrooms. “The failure to teach all of America’s history perpetuates and exacerbates the myth that African Americans and others were mere bystanders in the exploration, development, growth and prosperity of our country. Too many don’t know the full complexity of American history and have been uninformed and misinformed about our contributions to this country,” says Fudge. 
 
Currently, only 12 states within the U.S. specifically include Black history in their curricula and Fudge, rather than wait for the rest to catch up, would like to speed up the process. Though she’s known for her back to basics approach to legislation, Fudge isn’t one to pass up a good moment and believes now is the time for something like this to succeed. The bill was intentionally introduced just two days before the 66th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision on Brown v. Board of Education in May. Since that introduction, an even larger conversation about race in America has been taking place, a conversation that makes Fudge optimistic about the potential for real, uproot-the-problem kind of change. “African Americans have been here before, but this time feels different. Allies also see the wrongs, and have joined us in demanding justice and equity, and promoting an anti-racist society,” notes Fudge. 
 
Currently, the bill resides within the House Committee on Education and Labor, where it is under review.