"If you want to improve, recognizing that you have a problem is the first step."
This month, we are celebrating Black History. It is a great opportunity to learn or to deepen your knowledge about the African-American history and community. It is also a great opportunity to learn or to deepen your knowledge about the history of your country.
To me, History is one of the most important subject you get to study at school. You need to study your past if you want to change your future. To quote Winston Churchill: “A nation that forgets its past has no future”.
Understanding that learning about your history is not about making any one person or people group feel guilty. You cannot be guilty of actions that took place before you were born. But you can be guilty for remaining ignorant and not learning about your history and then repeating the same mistakes as your ancestors. This is why History is so important. We need to learn about our past so we can avoid repeating the same mistakes in the future.
During my years in France, we also learned about our History, about the great and dark times of our country. Starting in the 19th century and continuing in the 20th century, my country, along with other European countries, colonized most of Africa. And it is important to remember that European countries started the Atlantic slave trade in the 15th century, until the 19th century. Therefore, Europe shares a great responsibility for slavery, along with the United States.
Every country has written great pages and dark pages in History. For the United States, slavery and the Civil War that brought an end to it were definitely some of the darkest pages. And we must never forget.
History is not supposed to make you feel good or bad. History is your best defense against ignorance. Every time you learn about History, you are improving your defense and you are increasing your chances to have a bright future. When you know your History, you are less likely to get manipulated and to get lied to. Educated citizens are essential if we want a healthy democracy. Democracy can be hijacked and replaced by a dictatorship anytime anywhere if we close our eyes and we forget about our History. Don’t ever take anything for granted, keep learning.
We have made progress in this country since the end of the Civil War, thanks to citizen initiatives like the Civil Rights Movement in the 60s. We just had the 1st African-American president for 8 years, which is something that would have been unthinkable just 60 years ago. We have made progress but there is still much more work to do until we live in a society where all people have the same chances of success in life.
So, may we all learn this month about our History so we may never repeat our mistakes and we may all together build a brighter future. #StrongeruKnighted
I was born in Nancy, France, from my German mom and my French dad. After high school, I started attending college in my hometown, Nancy, and then finished my double master's degree in London, England. I then started teaching French in an English school in the London area. I met my wife, who is from Louisiana, when she did her one-year medical school abroad. I moved to Louisiana to be with my wife, whose family lives here. I have lived and worked in 3 countries. I consider myself a global citizen, through my family, study and working background. In my job as a French teacher and the Chair of the World Languages Department, I am passionate about sharing my experiences with my colleagues and trying to make our students global citizens.