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Theogony

The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School

Theogony

The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School

Theogony

Reviving History in African American Studies

Mr.+Shabazz+engaging+with+his+students+during+class.+Photo+Courtesy+of+Jackie+Lutz.+
Mr. Shabazz engaging with his students during class. Photo Courtesy of Jackie Lutz.

Introducing this year’s new history elective option.

Abigail Ernst

Editor

A new school year, a new elective being offered! This year, Alexandria City High School has revived the African American history elective. The course is open to all grade levels and is a full year, one credit social studies elective. 

This course is taught by RaAlim Shabazz, an award-winning teacher. The course focuses on African American history starting in early Africa to 1619 and through the present day and is seven units long. Students in this course will also discuss African American contributions in all realms. 

Specifically, the first unit will focus on race and racism in the United States, the second unit will talk about ancestral Africa and the colonies of Mali, Songhai, and Ghana. Students will then learn about the struggle for freedom and independence, the fight to change the face of liberty, which has two parts, and then reconstruction and civil rights. The last unit will be the capstone of the course, Modern Black America, which focuses on the African American experience right now.

Shabazz is most excited for the Modern Black America unit since it is the capstone of the course.

“As Malcolm X once said, ‘Out of all of our studies, history is best qualified to reward our research.’ I think that when we only know a part of the story of the human condition and what has happened to all people here in America, when we don’t understand the full context we can’t fully appreciate other cultures, we can’t affirm those other cultures… the more that we understand about one another, the better our society will be,” said Shabazz, “A good bit of our problem stems from the lack of understanding of other cultures, but when we only look at history through a Eurocentric lens, and we are not validating the full story of other cultures of other people, then we are making decisions culturally and intellectually with only a small part of what’s happened here in America.”  

Currently, there are 60 students taking this class at the King Street campus. This class is also offered at the Minnie Howard Campus, taught by Olivia White. The course covers the same content, however, the “freshman” version of the course does not go as in-depth.  

This course was offered for about eight years until it was later discontinued. Shabazz was eager to revive the course. “I started the lobbying effort about two years ago, I put in the course request along with some descriptors in an effort to get back into being a choice.” 

He believes that students should take this course because, “People will begin to reorient themselves to look at America in a more inclusive fashion, and if we can achieve that in this course because there is a diverse population that is taking the course, that’s a beautiful thing. Once we all have the same working body of knowledge, we begin to appreciate each other more and that’s going to create a better world. I am hoping your generation will do what we did not, which is to solve the problems of the past.” 

He does not only believe that students should just take a course in African American history, but that all courses of ethnic study are essential and should be offered. “I think that ethnic studies, in general, is something that’s important because without it traditional history is generally taught from a Eurocentric framework. 

He believes that people should learn about other cultures to allow them to better understand their own.

“People who have been marginalized and oppressed should be able to take a look at their history, simply because their history has been often left out. It’s important that we acknowledge that to give them an opportunity to study it in a very in-depth fashion and that will help with their appreciation of American culture and other cultures because you cannot appreciate other cultures without your own. You have to find your own voice before you can sing in a large chorus.”

Photo Courtesy of Jackie Lutz

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Reviving History in African American Studies