Understanding a New Perspective: FHN To Offer Black History and Literature Classes Next Year

Students+wear+masks+as+they+work+in+class.+Black+History+and+Black+Literature+will+be+new+additions+to+the+course+catalogue+as+separate+elective+classes.

Credit to Andrew Poertner

Students wear masks as they work in class. Black History and Black Literature will be new additions to the course catalogue as separate elective classes.

By Shivani Bondada and DaNyla Creacy

Starting next fall, FHN will offer two new elective courses: Black History and Black Literature. As St. Louis struggles with issues regarding inequality amongst racial groups – and after this issue gained increased attention last summer through the Black Lives Matter movement – this course will help students understand the untold stories of black history in America.

“The whole point of this course is for us to listen to each other and to listen to diverse perspectives,” history teacher Anastasia Hercules said. 

BLACK HISTORY

The curriculum writing committee is currently still writing the course with help from people at university levels who are specialized in diversity education. Hercules is on the committee and knows it will be an elective course that is slated to be a semester-long offering. She also says that the course will be more student-driven.

“[My biggest takeaway] for students is to see another perspective,” Hercules said. “The other part would be connection and empowerment of understanding for students taking the course to understand more of their own story.” 

Freshman Hailey Zhang plans to take this class next year. With everything that happened in 2020, Zhang is taking the course to become a more knowledgeable and understanding person. This course stood out to Zhang because it is a side of history that can often be overlooked in education.

“If you only learn history from one perspective, you won’t be able to fully understand what others go through,” Zhang said. “For people to become more understanding of each other, we have to learn the backgrounds of each other’s ethnicities and cultures.”

BLACK LITERATURE

The new elective Black Literature class will read, analyze and celebrate works penned by black authors. Reading these works are meant to broaden students’ horizons, and the curriculum is being written by English teachers Diane Fingers and Jani Wilkens.

“The Black Literature course is mainly the celebration of black people,” Fingers said. “The goal is to get students to look at themselves and the world differently.”

While the class is about the unspoken past of black people, it is also about self discovery and building relationships between the different students.

“In English we base all our books off of white male authors, so I kind of wanted to take a class where we could read books about black authors,” sophomore Mckenna O’Connor said.

The class plans to read one book together and then choose individual books they’re interested in to read. The only condition for choosing a book is that the author must be black.

“Instead of essays the students will be doing more talking and reading as well as projects,” Fingers said. “The point is to hear students’ different perspectives on each topic. It’s a very self-expressive class.”

The Black Literature course is for students to get a chance to learn about the black voices that might not be taught in regular literature classes. Although it’s only one semester long, Fingers encourages students to take both the black literature and black history courses.

“I hope that at the end of the class the students are able to go into the world with open minds and acceptance for everyone,” Fingers said.