Black studies curriculum in NYC schools

Dr. Shango Blake is one of a group of educators creating a new Black studies curriculum for New York City public school students called the "Education Equity action plan." 

"Our history starts in American textbooks with our arriving as slaves when it doesn't talk about what black people have contributed to the development of the world," Blake said. "We want to show the things that we've done in America besides just the Civil Rights movement. I was shocked that I had to go to the movies to learn that black women help put a man on the moon." 

Learning about the life and accomplishments of NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson will be part of this new Black Studies curriculum. Currently, school children in New York City learn about slavery and the Civil Rights movement and leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., however, Dr. Blake says so many more greats in Ancient and Modern history are left out. 

Some parents of public school children in New York City agree.  

"It's important to understand, to know who you are to identify and continue to just build on what it means to be who you are and at an early age, most kids are trying to just figure that out," said Eric Waterman. 

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Waterman and his wife Monique Chandler-Waterman have two teenage daughters in the city's public school system, and the pair say they wish their daughters had been taught more about Black history when they were in elementary and high school. 

"We need to see ourselves in the curriculum. They need to know who to look up to. They need to identify. You don't know where you're going if you don't know where you came from. So it's important to have an equitable plan when it comes to our black and brown community," Monique Chandler-Waterman said. 

The curriculum will start in kindergarten and continue through the 12th grade beginning in the next calendar school year.