It’s Black History Month, so I am continuing with the series of posts regarding Shaw resident and Father of Black History, Carter G. Woodson and his book The Mis-Education of the Negro, published in 1933.
The first two paragraphs of chapter 9:
Some time ago when Congressman Oscar De Priest was distributing by thousands copies of the Constitution of the United States certain wiseacres were disposed to make fun of it. What purpose would such an act serve? These critics, however, probably did not know that thousands and thousands of Negro children in this country are not permitted to use school books in which are printed the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution of the United States. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison are mentioned in their history as figures in politics rather than as expounders of liberty and freedom. These youths are not permitted to learn that Jefferson believed that government should derive its power from the consent of the governed.
Not long ago a measure was introduced in a certain State Legislature to have the Constitution of the United States thus printed in school histories, but when the bill was about to pass it was killed by some one who made the point that it would never do to have Negroes study the Constitution of the United States. If the Negroes were granted the opportunity to peruse this document, they might learn to contend for the rights therein guaranteed; and no Negro teacher who gives attention to such matters of the government is tolerated in those backward districts. The teaching of government or the lack of such instruction, then, must be made to conform to the policy of “keeping the Negro in his place.”
After looking at disappointing test scores for African American males at local public and charter schools, in my worst thoughts, I was under the impression that some folks were unaware that it was legal to teach Blacks to read. And if the population cannot read, they cannot read the nation’s founding documents, nor appreciate them. And if a man can’t appreciate the Constitution, he is ignorant of his rights as an American. It appears the powers that were in the 1930s were set to keep Blacks ignorant of their rights by keeping the Constitution out of the schools.
In the previous chapter Dr. Woodson noted how the dominate racial group had put hurdles in the path of Black lawyers. This as another way to deny the Black man his rights, by denying him his 6th Amendment right to council, of his own race.
Fast forward to now. America has tons of African American lawyers. However, the Constitution and America’s Founding Fathers, such as Jefferson and Madison have fallen out of fashion.
In my next post I will look for this book’s trademark swipe at “educated” African Americans in this chapter. At this point it is almost a drinking game.