U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) announced July 7 he introduced a bill to increase awareness and understanding of African American history across our schools through expanded access to programming from the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The 1619 Act would provide federal funding to support African American history educational programs through workshops and professional development activities for educators. Peters’ bill is cosponsored by 15 Senators, including U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (MI).
Many schools are not required to teach students about African American history and educators can face barriers including a lack of funding to access quality resources, a lack of awareness of where to find resources, or a lack of knowledge of how to develop or incorporate curricula. The 1619 Act would recognize the importance of African American history at the federal level, provide $10 million in funding over a five-year period and expand the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s education programming to teachers across the country.
This funding would specifically be available to support high school teachers, middle school teachers, school administrators and prospective teachers engage with quality resources on African American history. This in turn would help allow students in schools across the nation to learn more about African American history as well as teach valuable lessons from the African American experience along with the economic, political, social, cultural and other contributions generations of African American leaders have made to our nation.
The 1619 Act would additionally:
- Expand the National Museum of African American History and Culture professional development programs, through activities such as local, regional, and national workshops, teacher trainings with African American history education partners and engagement with local educational agencies and schools.
- Require the museum to create and maintain a centralized website for African American history, where educators can find curriculum materials, best practice and resources.
- Prioritize support for schools that currently do not offer African American history education programs;
- Organize and promote local, regional and national workshops and teacher trainings with African American history education partners, and;
- Encourage individual states’ education agencies to work with schools in order to integrate these programs within their course curriculum.
“Michiganders and Americans across the country are demanding we work together to address bigotry, hatred and systemic racism,” Peters said. “While I know we can meet this moment by working together, a central part of that effort must include ensuring that this generation – and future generations – of students can learn about and fully understand American history, including the African American experience. Black history should not only be recognized in our public schools as something that happens one month a year, each February, but something that is a larger part of the curriculum throughout the year. I’m proud to introduce the 1619 Act, which would help educators overcome barriers to teaching about African American history by providing federal funding and promote awareness and understanding among students.”