Charleston-area high school students kicked off a week of civil rights learning | Credit: Bella Natale

Educators should teach more civics, Black history and civil rights history so students have a solid grounding about what has happened in our county, state and country. At a time when school officials in Florida and various parts of the country want citizens to crawl back to the 1950s and remain ignorant or asleep about the past, South Carolina educators should redouble efforts to spread the truth in classrooms — warts and all. We must not fall into the historical trap of repeating past wrongs because we don’t know any better.

This week’s cover story by reporter Skyler Baldwin has two big takeaways. First, we should all be thankful for a nonprofit effort by Charleston Civil Rights and Civics (C3), its founder Leslie Skardon and Kids on Point for organizing and holding a week of amazing history lessons for 20 Charleston high school students. Second, local education leaders need to look at what they’ve done and incorporate more history, not less, in the classroom.

Charleston and South Carolina students need to know about slavery and how it was cruel, violent and deadly — not anything at all like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Board of Education’s politically motivated reinterpretation of history that slaves benefited from slavery by getting “useful skills.” That’s utter hogwash.

Our students need to know about how the White elite created Jim Crow laws to subjugate Black South Carolinians and take away power won in the Civil War. They need to know about the lynchings, cross-burnings and violence that cut through the South until after World War II.

They need to know about the Briggs v. Elliott case from Clarendon County in which a White Charleston federal judge wrote a stunning dissent that was the foundation of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education school desegregation case. Today’s students need to really understand how Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote some of his “I have a dream” speech at the Penn Center in South Carolina and what that meant. They need to know about the Charleston hospital strike, the Orangeburg Massacre at S.C. State and the Emanuel Nine killing spree here in Charleston.

2023 is not the time for any of the unwoke to try to return us to the sleepy, old 1950s. We can’t ignore the lessons of the civil rights movement, and we need schools to do more to incorporate the kind of healthy teaching offered by the C3 program from last week.

Let’s not ignore history. And let’s resist letting any splinter group scare us into doing the wrong thing for our students.

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