But Black churches are stepping in to fill this gap. We “will teach our own history,” says Tony F. Drayton, St. James Church’s lead pastor.
This isn’t a first for Black churches either. Historians say that in the past, Black churches have been active members in the fight for civil rights. And today, hundreds of Black churches have taken up this mantle to ensure that our history is not erased.
A church coalition called Faith in Florida (FIF) who advocates on behalf of social justice, created an “online toolkit which includes books, documentaries and videos related to Black history,” reports USA Today.
When you go to the Faith in Florida website, visitors are greeted with the message “Because Black History is American History!”
Drayton, who was one of the toolkit’s developers, said, “We have such a captive audience.” “From the pulpit, we have to be as woke as possible,” he continued, “I’m going to use that word intentionally.”
During NPR’s Morning Edition, education reporter Danielle Prieur explained how the “toolkit is not a curriculum, but a guide with recommended books, documentaries to watch and articles to read. It covers the history of the trans-Atlantic slave trade through the Civil Rights Movement up to the killing of George Floyd.”
“Well, the church is going to always be an educational institution – period,” chimed in Pastor Sharon Riley. “We teach people how to live their lives, how to raise their families, how to plan for their future. We teach. That’s what we do.”
According to The Hill, “Other states have also taken interest in the resources, with groups from Pennsylvania to California contacting FIF, including organizations that are not Black churches or part of the Christian community.”
Rhonda Thomas, Executive Director of FIF says, “Once this toolkit went out, we also had churches that are led by white faith leaders and Muslims register to teach Black History.”
“What stands out is that these states are just as concerned, because many times they know that whatever takes place in Florida, eventually it’s going to hit our states as well,” Thomas added.
These efforts are also extending beyond the parish and public school system. Other organizations and individuals are joining the fight to ensure that the next generation learns the truth about our history.