Elected officials in Brooklyn can’t seem to agree on a critical issue: how to incorporate Black history education into the public school curriculum.
In March 2017, outgoing State Senator Jesse Hamilton introduced a bill that would require the Board of Regents in the State of New York to make the teaching of Black history an integral part of student learning. In an op-ed for City & State New York, the Democratic Senator gave reasoning for why he believed the measure was necessary.
“We must build an education system that embraces the inescapable truth that tomorrow’s America will be even more diverse, will call for even more understanding, and will require us to be better versed in the American stories of our African-American, Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Latino and African diaspora brothers and sisters,” Hamilton wrote.
The bill was lauded by supporters as a crucial step forward in making sure that students are educated on their ancestors’ stories beyond the scope of slavery and Civil Rights, and to also introduce the accomplishments and contributions of Black people as an indispensable part of the American story. However, with the bill’s praises, also comes criticism.
An Assemblywoman who once backed the bill, is now saying the measure does not go far enough. Upon examining the contents of the legislation, Assemblywoman Diana Richardson said she was disappointed to find that the bill would only call for a study, instead of actually bringing a Black history curriculum into New York schools. According to POLITICO, along with Senator-elect Zellnor Myrie, Richardson is also pushing for the bill to be revised and include African-American, Asian and indigenous peoples.
With Hamilton on his way out, and his victor, Myrie, coming in, advocates of NY State Senate Bill S5454A are doing their best to hold on to the possibility of it passing, though an unclear future is ahead.