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Group Calls for Black History to Be Taught to All in City Public School System

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TWC News: Group Calls for Black History to Be Taught to All in City Public School System
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On the 60th anniversary of the historic 1954 decision Brown v. Board of Education, some say schools in in the city still don't provide culturally relevant education for children of color. NY1's Mahsa Saeidi filed the following report.

A small group of students and supporters marched from Brooklyn to City Hall Saturday. Their main demand was for black history to be taught to all enrolled in the city's public school system. And black history, they say, is about more than just Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

"Booker T. Washington, you have W.E.B. Du Bois, you have Nelson Mandela," said Bernard Gassway, principal of Boys and Girls High School. "Dr. John Henrik Clarke. You have Dr. L.A. Sanford. You have Shirley Chisholm. You have Sojourner Truth."

They marched exactly 60 years after the Supreme Court issued its unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education. The landmark case desegregated public schools, but protesters said the education experience still isn't equal for black and white children.

"Why, when 600,000 students in NYC school system, are black and brown children, they're not being taught their history? That makes no sense whatsoever," said Stan Kinard, youth development coordinator at Boys and Girls High School.

"Black history today will stop us from being in jails tomorrow," said former City Councilman Charles Barron.

Students here said they believe they'll perform better academically if they have knowledge and pride in their culture."

"I participate more in class, I do better in the classroom, because I know who came before me and what they expect of me," said organizer Christine Johnson, a student at Boys and Girls High School.

"It makes me feel more comfortable in my color," said Yemisi Onayemi, a student at Boys and Girls High School. "It makes me feel like I can express myself more."

Emmanuel Gay recently began learning about black history. He said it's changed his whole outlook.

"Olaudah Equiano, he wrote the first slave narrative," Gay said. "Just to hear that somebody who was a slave, somebody who wasn't supposed to learn how to read or write, was able to write a whole entire narrative, that alone influenced me and made me just want to do better."

While they wait for money to be set aside for this initiative, they're asking the community to help launch a campaign to teach black history to students after school, on weekends and on holidays.

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