Who is Martin Luther King? This is a question that I, a 20-year-old college student, cannot answer properly. Of course I know who King is. I am not educated on is what his purpose was.
I’m ashamed to say that the extent of my knowledge of this man and his ideals is as follows. King was a black Baptist, revolutionary leader who fought to achieve equal rights for blacks in America.
I think there are still too many people in our society who aren’t educated enough about black leaders-not only from the past but the present, as well. To what do I owe this lack of insight and/or close-mindedness?
I must admit sadly that I am the product of a predominantly white private school that can be held accountable for my ignorance.
I am not proud of, nor do I justify, the fact that I graduated from a school that had a total of 10-15 African-American students. The reason that I don’t know enough about leaders such as Malcolm X, Rosa Parks or King, is due to weak educational curriculum.
I learned about different religions, countries, presidents and the renaissance in detail. Yet the most in-depth lesson I’ve received on any black leader was during Black History month. One student stood before the whole school every Monday and taught us something about an influential black person.
Schools must incorporate black history into their curriculum more than just one month out of the year. I feel strongly enough about this to propose that the U.S. Department of Education make it mandatory for all schools to cover at least two influential black or minority leaders a month. It’s detrimental to the educational system not to include such information.
Perhaps the media should push Black History Month to a stronger platform, one on that will go beyond the BET network. Or to a platform of several networks informing people of influential leaders on a 12-month cycle. I feel that everyone, adults and children alike can benefit.
In all honesty, being the only white student in a class and not knowing anything about King is one of the most embarrassing and down-right unjustifiable things I admit to experiencing.
In his memory, I apologize to Dr. King for taking him for granted and not allowing myself to see how narrow-minded and biased our society can be. I thank him for looking beyond that and taking a stand to fight for what he felt was best for this nation.
Victor Diaz-Herman, 20, is a English/Journalism co-op student from FSU. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.