Black History becomes newest class at Decatur High School


Next year, for the first time, DHS will offer a black history course.

Black History has become the newest class at Decatur High School. Advanced Placement U.S. History (APUSH) teacher Cassandra Black designed this class to come in place next year.

“I saw that there was a need, academically, to go more in depth into some of the content that students are interested in,” Black said. “Last year, some of the students expressed to me that they wanted to learn more about certain topics and people, but we often get stuck, as history teachers, because there’s so much content [about Black History].”

Last year, Black talked to members of the Black Student Union (BSU) about whether she should try to teach this class. In her opinion, “the student polling was actually a really important part because it really felt like there was a need for [a Black History class].”

Sophomore Ana Villavasso is one of these students, but not affiliated with BSU. “I definitely look forward to being surrounded by people who think like me and have family members who have endured the same struggles as mine,” Villavasso said. 

Black designed the curriculum using Georgia standards for U.S. History, World History, Psychology and Sociology. According to Black, this mix of subjects will help students understand “the psychological aspects of racism and why we don’t all see each other as American.”

Black History will count as an elective for students in the IB Diploma program and as a social studies credit for other juniors and seniors. Black will most likely be the only teacher and will be able to choose which topics to focus on. According to Black, the students had some say in the topics as well.

“They wanted to know more about the Civil Rights movement outside of Martin Luther King (MLK), Rosa Parks and the March on Washington and into the Black Panthers and other leaders like Stokely Carmichael,” Black said.

Sophomore Salmoncain Smith-Shomade is one student who expressed this idea.

“I’m looking forward to gaining a new perspective on people like Langston Hughes, MLK, and Barack Obama,” Smith-Shomade said.

As for the outcome of the class, Black intends for the students to end up with a greater understanding of American history through their knowledge of black history.

“I hope that students get a broader picture of history,” Black said. “There are certain aspects that you can’t understand deeply if you don’t understand racial history.”