By Erin Hassanzadeh

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth — but some are just now learning about it.

Education experts say there’s a reason why.

“If you have an educator that knows history and really understands what occurred during the civil war period you probably did learn about Juneteenth, but it doesn’t mean that your textbook taught you,” said Dr. Kathlene Campbell, Dean of University of St. Thomas’ School of Education

“It’s actually one of the saddest things about education is that histories of people who were marginalized and the histories of people of color they’re not required in the standards,” said Nuhu Sims, the coordinator of equity at the Brooklyn Center School district and a PHD candidate at the University of Minnesota.

“It really is educators filling in the gaps that our textbooks have because they’ve omitted stories,” Campbell said.

Minnesota teachers aren’t required to teach specifically about Juneteenth, but experts say those histories are crucial to learn early.

“Research shows that by age nine, racial and ethnic prejudices are much harder to change,” Campbell said.

“We’ve been saying in the field of education maybe not right now, but later for a really really long time,” Sims said.

So what needs to happen?

“We need to start with the textbooks but we also need to go a little bit further than that and make sure every single teacher has to learn the content and then unlearned what they were previously taught,” Campbell said.

It’s also about taking education beyond the K-12 classroom.

There are children’s books and Online resources like teachingtolerance.org

“We have to train ourselves to continue to learn,” Campbell said.

With limitless information at our fingertips, experts say it’s up to us to do some of the work.

“It’s okay to not know, but once you do know you don’t get to be innocent anymore,” Sims said.

Listed below are resources for adults/educators:
Children’s Literature:
  • Alko, S. (2015). The case of the Lovings. New York, NY: Arthur A. Levine Books.
  • Cole, H. (2012). Unspoken: A story from the Underground Railroad. New York, NY: Scholastic Press.
  • Cohn, D. (2005). Si se puede! / yes, we can!: Janitor strike in L.A. El Paso, TX: Cinco Puntos Press.
  • Celebration Press. (1985). The patchwork quilt. New York, NY: Dial Books.
  • Cole, R. (2010). The story of Ruby Bridges. New York, NY: Scholastic Paperbacks
  • Evans, S. (2016). We march. New York, NY: Square Fish.
  • Giovanni, N. (2007). Rosa. New York, NY: Square Fish.
  • Isadora, R. (1994). At the crossroads. New York, NY: Greenwillow Books.
  • Levine, E. (2007). Henry’s freedom box: A true story from the Underground Railroad.
  • New York, NY: Scholastic Press.
  • Levy, D. (2013). We shall overcome: The story of a song. New York, NY: Jump At The Sun.
  • Moore, J.R. (2002). The story of Martin Luther King Jr. Nashville, TN: Candy Cane Press.
  • Ramsey, C.A. & Strauss, G. (2010). Ruth and the green book. Minneapolis, MN: Carolrhoda Books.
  • Rappaport, D. (2007). Martin’s Big Words. New York, NY: Hyperion.
  • Ringgold, F. (2003). If a bus could talk: The story of Rosa Parks. New York, NY: Aladdin.
  • Tonatiuh, D. (2014). Separate is never equal: Sylvia Mendez and her family’s fight for desegregation. New York, NY: Harry N. Abrams.
  • Winter, J. (1992). Follow the drinking gourd. New York, NY: Dragonfly Books.

Resources for more information on multicultural books:

Cooperative Children’s Book Center

We Need Diverse Books

Other resources: 

The Condemnation of Blackness

White Folks

Scene on Radio Podcast

Erin Hassanzadeh

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