As we come to the end of Black History Month, we must remember that Black history is not only about reflecting and honoring the past. It is also about the future and safeguarding generations of Black students’ right to learn about their history.  

Right now, there is an attempt to whitewash African American history across the country, specifically in Florida. This insidious work takes many forms: legislation aimed at controlling how racism is taught in schools; the banning of books about race, LGBTQ+ issues, and critical race theory; and Florida’s rejection of advanced college-level African American studies classes. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and other conservative leaders are doing all they can to uphold White supremacy and rewrite history.   

Black History Month must be more than a sanitized version of civil rights history fed to students to uphold existing, white-dominated power structures. This reckoning with the truth is the only way the U.S. will eventually become the equitable, multi-racial democracy that all children deserve.  

As long as there are oppressive systems in place, future generations will continue to work to dismantle them. Black History is filled with examples of students, just like the ones in classrooms today, fighting for radical change. Students deserve to know Black History so they can move the country toward a more equitable future. And no matter how challenging it is for the U.S. to come to terms with its role in harming and oppressing Black people—what students learn is not a decision for politicians to make. 

“How you tell this country’s history will determine what is politically possible. Conservatives in Florida know the accurate telling of history, specifically, the legacy of the Black Freedom Struggle, will win over a significant number of people to start envisioning a truly progressive future,” said James Lopez, executive director of Power U, Miami-based organization committed to organizing and developing the leadership of Black and Brown youth in South Florida to help lead the liberation of all oppressed people. 

On February 23, Power U supported the Dream Defenders for their “Can’t Ban Us: Day of Action.” Students and educators across the country were called to join Florida in solidarity as they walked out of their classrooms and hosted Black history teach-ins. 

Black students are well aware of America’s discriminatory past and present—they live it every day. They don’t have an option of not knowing.  They deserve to be inspired by the vastness of Black history and innovation—a history that belongs to them, their families, and communities.  

We need a full and accurate teaching of history, taught by teachers who believe in the power of truth as fuel for change. Black History is American History, and it needs to be a part of students’ education—not just this month but every month of the year.