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Paige Thompson

I am white, and for most of my upbringing, grew up in a predominately white town during the 70s and 80s. I do not remember learning much African American history in school, except for a project I did on the underground railroad as a fourth grader. I watched Roots and was impacted by that, feeling shame for my ancestry. Even though the town I grew up in was considered liberal, I did learn about discrimination by observing adults who said they believed in equality, but it only went so far. I moved in high school and was bussed to a school in which there was a lot of diversity, not just black and white, but also kids from other countries. Even there, I do not remember being taught specifically about African American history. As a language arts teacher now, I am trying expose my students to historical fiction and poetry that speaks to the African American experience. I feel that African American history was treated mostly as a separate history, rather than an integral part of this entire nation’s history and existence. It is not only the history of African Americans, but also my history, my lineage, that it is my responsibility to understand in order to become a more responsible citizen.

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