An African-American professor’s thoughts on black history during Black History Month

Malia Benison | Contributing Writer

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As campus settles into the second week of Black History Month, The Seahawk spoke with Dr. Donyell Roseboro, UNC Wilmington professor and chair of the Department of Instructional Technology, Foundations and Secondary Education within the Watson College of Education.  

Teaching long before her position in the Watson College of Education, Roseboro gained a great deal of perspective from her past as an African-American social studies teacher. Roseboro was inevitably tasked with incorporating black history into a curriculum that was almost exclusively focused on the accomplishments of white males.

Due to the fact that many students have the same doubts she has about the inclusiveness of history taught in schools, Roseboro looked into why the education system struggles to be more inclusive.

“It could still use a lot more work,” said Roseboro. “Out of 100 questions on the end-of-course test, only six of them were about black history.” Roseboro recalls that these tests “didn’t incentivize teachers to teach more black history” within the classroom.

Thus, this has led to the dissatisfaction of many professors and students who have begun to voice their opinions on the matter.  

As issues that are exclusive to the black community begin to gain recognition across campuses, Roseboro further emphasizes the importance of maintaining sensitivity towards others’ perspectives.

She is hopeful of UNCW students’ ability to tackle conversations of disagreement with understanding, noting “everyone has their own truth, with a little ‘t.’”

Whether people find themselves discussing these disagreements with peers or authority figures, it is, in Roseboro’s opinion, vital to be conscious of one’s own agency, which she considers to be another item of key importance when reflecting on Black History Month.

Roseboro finds great significance in students’ understanding of what agency is. She notes that agency is “how we decide to be agents for ourselves, how we decide to operate in the world.”

She concludes her discussion of the importance of agency by saying, “It is never just an individual choice… We wouldn’t be here without other people helping us.”

Roseboro also gives her opinion on what Black History Month means to her personally.

“It’s critical that we actually take the lessons we’ve learned from other people’s past experiences and our own past experiences and translate those into present day,” said Roseboro, emphasizing the importance of giving respect to previous individuals.

Roseboro identifies where gratitude of Black History Month should be concentrated, noting that the importance of this growing awareness of black history is “so that we can create a more cohesive, collective identity… [and finally,] I want [UNCW students] to know, know, know the word ‘hope.’”