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The Impact of History Untold Recap

Let’s start with a quiz:

  1. How many people in this picture can you identify?

  2. How has learning about each of these individuals changed your understanding of your identity, this community, and this country?

Quiz over (for now).

What we learn at school tells us a lot about who we are -- and about who the people around us are.

In June 2020, SHS grad Natalija Skoko enlightened her peers and the Sharon community about what it was like to grow up as a Black girl in the Sharon Public Schools. She described in careful detail how racism “infiltrates the education system -- how in so many ways, your hatred of me and my subsequent hatred of myself was a direct product of our school system and the whitewashed definition of beauty, excellence, and capability that your curriculum provided us with.”

On February 2nd, six members of the Sharon community gathered on Zoom to watch Natalija’s speech and then discuss the impact of Black history untold in the Sharon Public Schools.

Prisnel Dominique, moderator

Jerry Wright II, parent

Patti Keenan, parent

Jeremiah Bonnet, graduate of SHS

Natalija Skoko, graduate of SHS

Dr. Angela Burke, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Sharon Public Schools

They each interrogated their own experience as Black students, Black parents, and a Black educator and suggested concrete actions educators, parents, and students could take to address the problems they identified. While they didn’t agree on every point, they were clear that teaching a fuller, more inclusive American history across the K-12 experience would benefit all students.

You can listen in on their conversation here:

Let’s go back to where we started: the photo collage at the top of this blog post. Look it over. Whose face is familiar? Whose is not? Did you learn about these people during your K-12 years? Did you celebrate their contributions to American society? If you didn’t learn about them in school, when did you learn about them?

If you recognize none or only a few faces, this is your opportunity to notice the impact of history untold. On a personal level, the impact looks like an empty space -- one which you didn’t even know was there a minute ago. It’s hard to notice things that are missing or what has been left out. Where do you begin to look for something you never even knew existed -- or was important?

Consider then, the following:

How might you look at yourself differently if the young version of you had heard of Miss Ella Baker?

How might you understand your place in the world differently if you as a young person were familiar with the work of Malcom X?

Which career choices might you have considered if you had heard of Katherine Johnson when you were in high school?


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