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Rep. Fudge Introduces the Black History is American History Act

WASHINGTON –Just two days before the 66th Anniversary of the May 17, 1954 landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education, Representative Marcia Fudge (OH-11), joined by 47 of her colleagues, introduced the Black History is American History Act (H.R. 6902).  The legislation, introduced Friday, May 15, incentivizes and supports the teaching and learning of Black History in schools across the country. 

For more than 400 years, African Americans have been an integral part of the exploration, settling, founding, development, growth and advancement of the United States of America.  A 2015 study by the National Museum of African American History and Culture on the state of African American History and Culture in K-12 public schools found that teachers considered Black History influential in understanding the complexity of American history.  While there currently is no federal mandate requiring Black History to be taught in public education settings, 12 States have passed laws requiring its incorporation into the public school curricula. 

“The anniversary of the decision integrating our schools and overturning the inherently unequal ‘separate but equal’ access to education 66 years ago is a reminder of the important role knowledge plays in combatting prejudice and marginalization,” said Rep. Fudge.  “Black History is crucial to understanding the complexity of American history.  It is not just about slavery and civil rights—Black History is an inseparable part of the story of America.  By incentivizing the teaching and learning of Black History in our nation’s schools, we affirm that Black History is American History.”

“African American History is American History,” said Dr. Fadhilika Atiba-Weza, Executive Director of the National Alliance of Black School Educators.  “From the arrival of the first Africans to the shores of the American colonies to the present, African Americans have been intricately involved with, and linked to the evolution and development of our country.  Not only does Black History highlight the brave journey of Africans from enslavement to freedom as they built and shaped this country, it contributes to the healing process that is required if we are to fulfil the true meaning of our creed.  We envision all our students across the country benefiting from this development as they strive to form a more equitable America.  NABSE is proud to be associated with this important development.”

The Black History is American History Act mandates 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. The American History and Civics Academies support the establishment of Presidential Academies for Teachers of American History and Civics.  The Presidential Academies offer workshops to veteran and new teachers of American history and civics to strengthen their knowledge and preparation for teaching these subjects.  The program also supports establishment of Congressional Academies for students of American History and Civics to develop a broader and deeper understanding of these subjects.  However, Black History is not a required component for either academy.

Specifically, the Black History is American History Act amends Title II of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to:

  • Require the inclusion of Black History in the teaching and learning of American History in order to be eligible for either academy;
  • Promote use of the resources offered by the National Museum of African American History and Culture to teachers and students; and
  • Encourage continued inclusion of Black History in tests administered by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

The Black History is American History Act is endorsed by the National Alliance of Black School Educators (NABSE).

Original cosponsors for the Black History is American History Act include Representatives Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44), Karen Bass (CA-37), Joyce Beatty (OH-03), Anthony G. Brown (MD-04), G. K. Butterfield (NC-01), André Carson (IN-07), Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09), Wm. Lacy Clay (MO-1), Steve Cohen (TN-09), TJ Cox (CA-21), Danny K. Davis (IL-07), Val B. Demings (FL-10), Debbie Dingell (MI-12), Eliot L. Engel (NY-16), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Dwight Evans (PA-03), Jesús G. "Chuy" García (IL-04), Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15), Al Green (TX-09), Alcee L. Hastings (FL-20), Jahana Hayes (CT-05), Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30), Henry C. "Hank" Johnson, Jr. (GA-04), Gregory W. Meeks (NY-05), Marcy Kaptur (OH-9), Elaine G. Luria (VA-02), Grace Meng (NY-6), Gwen S. Moore (WI-04), Stephanie Murphy (FL-7), Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-At Large), Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10), Stacey E. Plaskett (VI-At Large), Mike Quigley (IL-05), Cedric L. Richmond (LA-02), C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-02), Bobby L. Rush (IL-01), Tim Ryan (OH-13), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), David Scott (GA-13), Terri A. Sewell (AL-07), Darren Soto (FL-09), Bennie G. Thompson (MS-02), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Norma J. Torres (CA-35), Filemón Vela (TX-34), Frederica S. Wilson (FL-24).

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