College of Education associate professors Keffrelyn Brown and Anthony Brown recently published the book “Black Intellectual Thought in Education: The Missing Traditions of Anna Julia Cooper, Carter G. Woodson, and Alain LeRoy Locke” in an effort to provide a counter-narrative in the study of African-American intellectuals and culture across history.
Cooper, Woodson and Locke were prominent black scholars and philosophers in the early 20th century who spoke out on subjects including race, gender, education and art. During their time, they were faced with an academic and social climate that sought to minimize the influence of their work, according to Keffrelyn Brown.
“Those particular authors — the ones that we highlighted — are just an example of very prolific writers and prolific educators whose work has not been canonized,” Brown said. “Clearly that would be connected to larger perceptions over what was considered legitimate work and who could produce it at the time when they were writing.”
Woodson, one of the book’s subjects, initially founded Black History Month’s predecessor, Negro History Week, to act as a counter-narrative to a story that was leaving out important black voices, Keffrelyn Brown said.
“The purpose of doing that work was really to illuminate voices, experiences, people who had been disregarded,” Brown said. “At that particular time, Dr. Woodson was concerned that there was a whole history of a people that was not being represented in official curriculum and unofficial curriculum.”
Kayla Celeste, a radio-tevlevision-film and African & African diaspora senior , said Black History Month should focus on more than Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.
“So many more black people have done so many more amazing things than Malcolm X,” Celeste said. “Those who continue to perpetuate a white, patriarchal society want to limit these stories, and they don’t want us to know we have this potential.”
Advertising senior Cristina Musso said Black History Month is important in light of what she sees as inequalities in the perception of the achievements of black Americans.
“Until we get to a point where people are just considered people, and black achievements are just considered achievements, this month needs to be celebrated,” Musso said.
Brown said there is a connection between the need for Black History Month and the need for Black Lives Matter.
“They’re connected through what might be recognized as anti-blackness,” Brown said. “The history of practices that have delegitimated and, in many cases, dehumanized people of African descent in this country.”