Juxtapose two stories:
• At the University of the West Indies, in Cave Hill, Barbados, African drumming, a history lecture, and a song with the chorus, “We cry for the ancestors!” were featured at a ceremony unveiling a monument inscribed with 295 names of slaves who once lived on the plantation where the university now stands.
• Elizabeth City State University, a 2,300 student historically black college in North Carolina, is thinking about cutting seven undergraduate majors, including history, because these majors are “low productive.”
The first story comes from a New York Times op ed discussing efforts by Caribbean nations to unite around a common agenda demanding reparations for the slave trade and slavery. The question the second story, from Inside Higher Education, raises is: in the future will there still be debates anywhere about reparations for slavery and the slave trade—or for the Shoah—or for other past crimes if history ceases to be taught or taught seriously? Over half of U.S. high school students can’t locate Vietnam on a map—and aren’t sure in which century the American Civil War was fought. What can we expect in the future if historical illiteracy becomes, not merely an adolescent ‘fact of life,” but educationally normative?
The 1960s pop song—“Don’t Know Much About History”—may become an understatement.Details