Yak’s Corner
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Front Page Talking Points

FOR THE WEEK OF FEB. 09, 2009

Common Core State Standard
SL.CCS.1/2/3/4 Grades 6-12: An essay of a current news event is provided for discussion to encourage participation, but also inspire the use of evidence to support logical claims using the main ideas of the article. Students must analyze background information provided about a current event within the news, draw out the main ideas and key details, and review different opinions on the issue. Then, students should present their own claims using facts and analysis for support.

Obama era reopens questions about value of Black History Month

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1.gifLook for a Black History Month news report, commentary, photo or events list. Is it identified with a graphic logo or special presentation?

2.gifJournalists strive for "mainstreaming," which involves quoting and picturing diverse community members in coverage unrelated to their ethnicity, race or gender. Find an example, such as an African American student, educator, parent or business person featured in coverage not about Black History Month.

3.gifReaders may share opinions about Black History Month in letters to the editor, blogs and online comment forums. See if you spot a discussion. Talk about your views and consider sending a message to the paper.

During a month when schools, colleges, advertisers and news media give extra attention to African American history, a nagging question is heard more widely: Do we still need a Black History Month? Those who say "no" point out that slavery ended 146 years ago, the Civil Rights Act passed 45 years ago and a black president was inaugurated three weeks ago.

Critics feel it's condescending to designate a month for special focus on the heritage of one race. "I don't want a Black History Month," actor Morgan Freeman says. "Black history is American history."
On the other side, defenders welcome the national observance that began in 1976 as an awareness-raising reminder of achievements and contributions by blacks throughout American history. "To know about the people who make up society is to make a better society," says Professor Daryl Scott, chairman of history at Howard University. "A multiracial, multiethnic society has to work at its relationships."

Observances around the country this month include art exhibits, concerts, readings, lectures, worship services and other presentations of many types. Barack Obama's presidency lets educators connect historic figures to 2009. Some teach about Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan woman who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for leading a movement that planted millions of trees in Africa. Obama, whose dad was from Kenya, planted a tree in her program while visiting the continent. And like Martin Luther King Jr., Maathai was jailed for fighting injustice.

Historian says: "I don't see it going away. There's a Women's History Month. No one would argue that we don't need to be reminded of women who have done things that are important." - Professor Spencer Crew, George Mason University in Virginia

Columnist says: "This country has reached a point where we are can stop celebrating separately, stop learning separately, stop being American separately. . . . I propose that Black History Month be no more." - Rochelle Riley, Detroit Free Press

Blogger says: "Black History Month feels especially significant this year. . . . Everywhere one looked during Inauguration weekend were reminders of how Black history and American history had converged." - Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children's Defense Fund, blogging at The Huffington Post

Front Page Talking Points is written by Felix Grabowski and Alan Stamm for NIEonline.com, Copyright 2014
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