FSU needs mandatory African-American history education

Clockwise: Frederick Douglas, Sojourner Truth, George Washington Carver, and Martin Luther King Jr., all major figures in African-American history.

Framingham State University requires three specific courses usually completed freshman year – Expository Writing, a college-level mathematics course, and a class with a First-Year Foundations section attached, which is designed to help freshman acclimate to the new environment of college.

There are several other academic domains that need to be completed by students, no matter their majors, in order to graduate, which include creative arts, humanities, a language, two sciences – one of which must be a lab – and perspectives of the past.

I firmly believe it is beneficial to have a broad range of basic knowledge under your belt from a variety of disciplines as part of a liberal arts education. I believe it’s time to implement a mandatory diversity course focused on African-American history, art, or culture as part of the University’s general education system – particularly because there have been a number of hate crimes on campus in the past.

FSU already offers a few general education classes in this subject area, such as Slavery, Race, and Rights in American History.

Additionally, the English department also offers an African-American Literature and Film minor, with six different courses to choose from, such as African-American Film, African-American Literature, and African-American Women Writers.

I have taken the African-American Women Writers course, and not only did I learn how to overcome the societal-driven fear of discussing race in an open classroom setting but also integrated what I learned into my daily life and view of the world.

Framingham State does not offer enough stand-alone courses on the African-American experience and more need to be developed.

Race is a difficult topic for students to discuss if they have not been provided the tools with which to do so, but this can be changed with a general education course requirement. Racial bias incidents and hate crimes, such as those that have occurred over the last few years on campus, may be discussed more honestly, openly, and productively if students have an academic context to understand the African-American experience.

Many first-year students come from family or social backgrounds where race is not openly discussed and racism is not actively challenged. Providing them the opportunity to learn about important topics such as black history, art, and culture will help them become more socially conscious.

This campus is still in pain from these hate crimes, and some students still feel unsafe living here. A significant cause of hate crimes is ignorance, and ignorance comes from lack of knowledge.

It is never too late to learn, whether someone is 18 or 48. We can choose to surround ourselves with the people, cultures and conversations we’re already familiar with – but college is about exposing yourself to new ideas and discussions.

College is about enriching the minds of our future leaders and citizens, and that is why learning about the African-American experience is important.

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