Flushing resident seeks inclusive black history in public schools

By Madina Toure

A longtime Flushing resident is pushing for a more comprehensive African-American history curriculum in Flushing’s public schools.

Carol Whiting, 72, a community activist and retired teacher who heads the education committee for the nonprofit National Congress of Black Women, said students typically learn about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm.

But Whiting says there are other African-American historians who are not studied as much in the city’s public schools.

For example, Lewis Latimer, inventor of the carbon filament for the incandescent light bulb, lived on 34-41 137th St. in Flushing from 1903 until his death in 1928. The home is now a museum dedicated to his work.

She also said orator and writer Frederick Douglass, who is known as one of the leaders of the abolition movement, is not often studied in schools.

She is starting with District 25, which includes Whitestone, Flushing and Fresh Meadows, but will eventually expand the proposal to the whole city.

“We envision that when it really reaches its high point, that all the students would get an idea or be educated and enlightened as to who the other African-American historians are in history besides the ones we always hear about,” Whiting said.

Whiting said District 25 asked her to put together a resource list that would provide details on student trips, landmarks, guest speakers, books, CDs and tapes that would enlighten students about unexplored parts of African-American history.

The list, which Whiting is currently compiling, would be given to schools and principals in District 25.

District 25 could not comment on the proposal yet.

The city Department of Education said black history is integrated into DOE classrooms through the agency’s K-12 Social Studies Scope and Sequence, which guides studies instruction in all DOE schools, according to a DOE spokesman.

Black history is also integrated into DOE classrooms through other instructional documents, support from DOE leadership and carefully selected texts and primary sources, the spokesman added.

“Any proposed instructional materials must be carefully reviewed and approved by our Instructional Materials Review Unit,” the spokesman said in an email. “We welcome community input and proposals to support our students and schools.”

Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtoure@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

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