Perspectives on Black History: Education is the Silver Bullet

Feb 6, 2024 | PDA News

A Free Society Needs an Educated Citizenry


Republicans and other would-be authoritarians know this truth. An authoritarian state depends on control of the masses, and the masses are easier to control if they have minimal aspirations, poor critical thinking and communication skills, and limited understanding of history, current affairs, and the way government works.

As so-called conservative legislators and governors continue to ban books, prevent the teaching of fact-based history and science, rewrite curricula to meet their ideological agenda, and populate school boards with proudly uninformed and misinformed individuals, we should take a few moments to ponder why they are assaulting our system of education. The reasons for this attack begin and end with the acquisition and sequestering of power by one group over others. In America, the group in power has overwhelmingly been populated with white men. Reflect on these perspectives on the value of education:

I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them but to inform their discretion. —Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President, philosopher, statesman, Founding Father, and slave holder

Education means emancipation. —Frederick Douglass, social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, statesman, and escaped enslaved person

The whole world opened to me when I learned to read. —Mary McLeod Bethune, daughter of formerly enslaved persons, educator, philanthropist, humanitarian, civil rights activist, and co-founder of the United Negro College Fund

In the end, we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught. —Baba Dioum, Senegalese forest engineer at the General Assembly of the International Union for Conservation of Nature

The classroom was a jail of other people’s interests. The library was open, unending, free. —Ta-Nehisi Coates, author and journalist, from his book Between the World and Me

Our problem as Americans is we actually hate history. What we love is nostalgia. —Regie Gibson, poet, songwriter, author, and educator

I love the poorly educated. —Donald Trump, 45th President and 2024 candidate for the presidency

Progressive Democrats of America honors Black History Month all year long by fighting for better and more accessible public education, expanded voting rights, a fair playing field, environmental justice, an end to systemic racism, support for progressive candidates from diverse backgrounds, and basic human rights for everyone. We celebrate the achievements of African Americans to the fabric of American history, culture, education, and governance…not just in February, but all year long, because Black history is American history, and actions speak louder than words.

If you’re interested in volunteering for our campaign for equality, go here.

In solidarity,

Debra Schrishuhn for the PDA National Team