Right Start Blog

Looking to the Past to Help Shape a Brighter Future

By: Denise Yarbrough-Smith
Third grade teacher Denise Yarbough-Smith shares some ideas for learning more about Black History month...all year long.
As we welcome Black History month, I can’t help but think of Sankofa. Sankofa, a word originating in Ghana, means "to look to the past." The symbol used to illustrate the meaning is a bird reaching backward for an egg on its back and signifies the importance of bringing knowledge learned from the past into the present in order to make positive progress. 

I think of Sankofa during Black History month because this month is one of the many opportunities we can use to look at the history of Blacks in America. It is important to remember not just the oppression of Blacks, but to honor the way so many resisted white supremacy. 
Teaching Tolerance recently wrote that “it’s critical we show that people of African descent have contributed more than forced, free labor to U.S. history. Students deserve opportunities to examine black literature, art, innovations, and customs that have helped shape the culture of the United States—and the world.”

I encourage you to use this month to talk with your children about the amazing roles Blacks have played throughout American history. Visit our library, where you’ll find many books about famous African Americans; check out the official 
African American History Month website where you’ll find many resources; or join the “Conversations on Race” with the Talbot Family Network. Whichever you decide to do, be assured that it will be beneficial to you and your family because, as the word Sankofa conveys, knowing our past will allow us to make progressive growth in the future. Happy Black History month! 

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