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That unknown saint, Rosa Parks.

There aren't many things that will surprise me anymore, but when somebody comes to me and tells me that in seeing a funeral memorial service this is the first time he heard of Rosa Parks, you're going to have to lift my jaw off of the floor.

I launched a five-minute cross examination on this person to find out if he was serious. Not that he would make the type of joke involving the feint of ignorance of one of the pivotal players in the civil rights struggle, but it strained credulity that any school system in this modern age would neglect in teaching anything about Rosa Parks -- not even the worse of the schools in Chris Rock's mind:
"Who was the woman who refused to get up and leave her seat on the bus?"
"Are you sure it was a woman? Oh, I know... Martina Luther King!


I really lost some coherence once I realized he was serious. I think I used words like "scholastic malpractice" to describe my thoughts on it, but I really was at a loss of words on this.

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
rasa
Nov. 3rd, 2005 12:39 am (UTC)
While I agree that it's appalling that this person managed to never hear of Rosa Parks... I'm not surprised.

We never, ever made it even remotely close to the Civil Rights era in any history class I took. We study early US history. Sure, I had a class in high school where I think we hit WWII, but that's as far as I ever went. I can't speak for other states, but this is how it was in RI.

I know very, very little about WWI and II. I know a bit about Viet Nam because my dad went there. But everything I know about the latter half of the 1900's is tangental, stuff I picked up outside of school. My dad taught history/geography for 33 years so that helped. (College, of course, is different, as you can pick and choose what you take.)

The US isn't that old! How can we spend 12 years studying colonial history?!

sterlingnorth
Nov. 3rd, 2005 04:21 am (UTC)
When I finally figured out how to approach the conversation, I asked what they did in school during 'Black History Month'. The gist of it was largely hanging up posters, but not much of a in curricula focus. At this point, I really wanted to figure out how much he did or didn't know, but I realized that if it was a bad as I feared, the task would be far too daunting for an IM conversation. That said, he is as upset as I am for this bit of scholastic malpractice. This is when I figured how much of a mixed mind I am of having a 'Black History Month'. It shouldn't need to exist, not in this country. Too much of the history in this country had this black-white dynamic affecting the course of events that you can't really teach it without integrating it into history. But yet, most schol systems prefer the "great [white] hero did great things on these dates" way of teaching American history -- George Washington was the father of our country, Lincoln freed the slaves, etc. therefore the various history months are needed to balance things out.

On your point, I never, ever understood why school systems never thought of breaking American history into a two year course. The complaint always seems to be that nothing after 1970 ever gets covered very well, and unless we can figure out ways to compress it better, there will be more post 1970s history no one will ever learn. People will begin to fall back on "That's 70s Show" reruns to fill in the blanks. Though you're right. We're only (going back to the earliest explorers) 500 years old. How does European or even Chinese kids manage to study their millennia of history and culture?
allensbp
Nov. 11th, 2005 10:02 pm (UTC)
Animation
Just ran into your blog. I think you need to post more on cartoons and animation, as your previous posts on the topic were quite funny. Your other topics are great as well. Keep writing!

Enoch Allen
sterlingnorth
Nov. 13th, 2005 01:09 am (UTC)
Re: Animation
It's a funny coincidence that last night over instant messenging I got into a long conversation about anime affecting current trends in American animation -- part of it was a story i read in the newspaper about newspapers picking up manga to go after new readers. That's something I want to adapt for a post, but I still need to write my election post, and my Birdy post.

Still, I'm doubly amazed here by the fact that, not only that people read this blog, but that people don't regret reading this blog...
allensbp
Nov. 13th, 2005 08:09 pm (UTC)
Re: Influence of manga
Yeah, the influence of manga would be a terrific starting point. Of course, then, you would have the opportunity to write a book-length post. Not sure if you're into that kind of elaboration.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )