We Heart: Kerry Washington Urges Teaching Black History Before Slavery

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Kerry Washington—actor, director and producer—told Jimmy Kimmel last week it is important to teach kids a Black history that starts before slavery: “before Black people were told what they couldn’t do.”

Washington’s point is valid: Few school systems today teach about the history and culture of Black people predating the arrival of Europeans in the 1400s, or the arrival of the first slave ship in the U.S. in 1619.

Black history in the U.S. school system is taught through a white lens. Few get the chance to learn about Blackness as a separate entity than whiteness—that is, when history is told, Black people exist in relation to white people.

In the Kimmel interview, Washington brought up historical subjects such as the Maasai Warriors, the kingdoms of Ghana, Queen Nefertiti and the pyramids of…

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