United States of Amnesia


Kerry Wilson, Opinion Editor

When it comes to American history, students usually receive a tale of noble men and women protecting their newfound country – in high school, that is. College students wondering why they must take history classes often discover another side to the stories told to them years prior.

“In high school, they only tell you what they need to tell you in order for you to fit the criteria and graduate,” said Texas A&M University-Commerce senior Hameda Kabba. “When you come to college, it’s so open-minded. People are more in tune to wanting to know more about history, because some stuff just doesn’t add up in high school.”

Kabba thinks the one-sided information is because of control in the public school system.

“I don’t know if it’s because of age, or because in high school you have parents, board members, everybody who has control of what you learn,” she said. “Whereas here your teacher is like ‘It’s my class and I’m going to tell you what it is, and I’m going to let you know the truth.”

William F. Kuracina, associate professor of history, said the whitewashing of history in public schools to people is the result of a nonchalant attitude within people.

“We are passing through a transitional moment, where the events of the past are whitewashed to a considerable degree, because we as Americans, in my opinion, we bury our heads in the sand and get on with our day,” he said. “We accept the status quo and we move on. We don’t actually reflect on it too much, because we don’t dwell in too much detail about how we got to where we are – history.”

One piece of history that has encouraged Kabba to reflect was the possibility of past African-American presidents in the United States.

“I know I’ve heard the rumor that we had black presidents before,” said Kabba. “I know in high school, they definitely did not want to let us know that there could have possibly been black people that were presidents before our current one.”

When Kabba came to A&M-Commerce, a history professor confirmed the strong possibility of past African-American presidents in the United States.

“When I got to college and I had history, she was just like ‘Well, most teachers wouldn’t tell you back in high school that there was maybe a black person that was trying to be president,’” said Kabba. “I wondered how that could have been possible with slavery. But, she said there were possibly black people who were presidents before George Washington. Information like that where you’re just kind of blocked off really gets exposed out here in college.”

Junior English Education major Kenzie Douglas believes not exposing unknown information to students at any level leads to an uninformed society.

“I feel like if we’re not teaching the full history in schools, then we’re doomed to repeat history,” said Douglas. “If you don’t go to college, you don’t get that full history. That’s why so many people are ignorant about so many different things. It’s not that they’re stupid and don’t know. They’re just not educated.”