A great Republican, Abraham Lincoln, once said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

So it is with many of our leaders.

Most notably Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is trying to dismantle and restructure public education in his state.

By undermining the integrity of African-American studies, DeSantis is questioning whether or not it should be included in the core curriculum of general education.

It seems that the Governor is suggesting that African-American studies shouldn’t stand alongside english, science, math, history and other subjects being taught in public school systems.

Unless anyone hasn’t noticed, the African American population is nearing the 50 million mark and growing.

Look around.

In all aspects of society-at-large, African-American influence is obvious, relevant and worthy of study.

Dr. Bert Mutersbaugh taught the first “official” Black studies course at Eastern Kentucky State College in 1963. Up until that time, Kentucky history was taught, but included scant information about the African-American experience in the Commonwealth.

Dr. Mutersbaugh’s class was rudimentary, concentrating heavily on antebellum slavery, but quite informative and enlightening for undergraduate students attending an institution so new to integration.

Since that time, the curriculum has grown to the point of being a legitimate department within the university’s history/humanities division.

Why now?

Is politics part of the ultimate end game of certain politicians to lessen the impact and influence of African-Americans at the ballot box, as many Americans suspect?

The approach being taken by DeSantis and others is failing the sniff test as more and more educational entities line up against their assertions.

The detractors of African-American studies are using our children as pawns in this high stakes attempt to gain political leverage going forth. They’re being clever and coy in this culture-cancelling scheme to sway certain voters to their way of thinking as major elections approach.

Hearkening back to an opinion piece I penned, “The Truth Is Being Tested (9/26/20),” the Florida Governor is disguising legislation coined as protecting future generations of American youngsters.

Protecting them from what?

The truth?

What’s really happening is a veiled attempt to discredit the legitimacy of African-American studies.

Thankfully, educators, administrators, and others like outgoing Berea College President Dr. Lyle D. Roelofs are countering the politically charged assertions being made by DeSantis and other politicians with statements of truth and reality.

In a moving column — “Completing the History of Kentucky” — which appeared in this newspaper on Feb. 17, 2023, Dr. Roelofs cites the work of Berea College administrations, past and present, dedicated to real racial justice and inclusion.

Berea College joins a growing list of African-American students, teachers, administrators, and other concerned citizens determined to maintain the historic truth and actual facts of African-Americans’ contributions to American history, the Commonwealth of Kentucky in particular.

Dr. Roelofs leads the college in a collaborative being called The Association for Teaching Black History. The association includes Kentucky State University, The Muhammad Ali Center, and the Thomas D. Clark Foundation.

It’s been known for some time now that Carter G. Woodson, the Father of Black History, is a Berea College graduate. Berea College’s philosophy of truth, equality, and inclusion was (is) intended for all Kentuckians.

Dr. Roelofs strongly advocates that we “allow and encourage teachers to teach the truth.”

As the many and varied celebrations of Black History Month fade away, the nation has witnessed and celebrated many sincere “Kumbaya” occasions.

The term’s African roots are immortalized in an African American spiritual from the South, “Oh Lord Won’t You Come By Here.” Kumbaya speaks of the essential goodness of people and that we can live in relative harmony by reaching out and assuming the best in each other.

If Americans, collectively, can espouse such a possibility, we can withstand the onslaught of culture canceling and negativity coming from politicians and others who have their own divisive agendas.

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