History lessons

The last two days have been a bit of an education both in regional Kansas barbecue, and in American history. When I look back at the textbooks that I read on American history, particularly around slavery, race, and civil rights, I always feel as though so much of it was glossed over, and many areas that could have gone deeper just aren’t given the time or the textbook paragraph space.

We visited the Brown vs. Board of Education national historical site today on our way back to Kansas City from Abilene, Kansas, which is where the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum is. Brown vs. Board of Education was one of the handful of major Supreme Court cases that we learned in school, but what I do not remember being told or taught was that after the ruling, many states actually rebelled against it, going so far as to shutting down their schools and entire school districts to prevent desegregation from happening. It just sounded so full of hate and selfishness; there’s really no other way to put it. It happened everywhere from Arkansas to Virginia. We knew from learning about the Little Rock Nine that communities and individuals were against whites and blacks having the same rights and going to the same schools, but for entire cities’ school districts to just shut down to make a statement just seems so unfair to literally everyone living in these areas.

Maybe that’s why so many people believe that racism doesn’t exist, that there’s no difference in treatment between a white or a brown or a black person. Maybe that’s the reason insanities like Fox News exist. It’s because the way rulings like Brown vs. Board of Education are taught do not delve deeper into the aftermath of the rulings. They don’t drill into the injustices that continued to happen day after day when major decisions like this are made. They don’t make the connection between those times and what we are experiencing today. They make it seem as though these decisions or laws swept away all the bad, and everyone just lived happily ever after since then. That isn’t the case. It wasn’t the case then, and it also still isn’t the case now. The amount of ignorance in this country around our own history is just so saddening. Even when I think about myself, I still believe I learned more about U.S. history visiting presidential libraries and these historical sites over anything I learned in school. And I supposedly went to the “better” schools in San Francisco, too, so I’m not sure what that’s saying about the quality of schools in America in general.

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