African-American history has played an integral role in the shaping of politics, economics, and culture in the United States. Growing up, how did you learn about the accomplishments and struggles of African Americans? Were you in a classroom? Reading a book? Talking with relatives or friends? How has your understanding or knowledge of African-American history changed and/or developed over time? What do you think is the most effective way to pass along this rich and growing history to future generations?

Karen Glovka

When I was in fourth grade, my parents moved to a multiracial neighborhood in San Francisco. It was 1966. My first best friend at school was a little girl named Valerie. Naturally, I invited Valerie to my birthday party. Valerie’s mom came by to see my mom to make sure that Valerie wouldn’t be turned away from a white home. Several of my friends canceled when their parents realized an African-American child would be at my party. While Valerie and I played, our moms had coffee and talked. Valerie came to my party and our families were good friends until they moved away several years later. When I was a little older, my mom told me about living in some of the first integrated housing on the West Coast, right after WW II. She just had “friends,” not friends in different colors. I have always been thankful for the important lesson my mom taught me about people just being people.