Vermilion County students know February traditionally kicks off Black History Month in their classrooms, a time when teachers concentrate on the contributions African Americans made to our nation’s greatness.

When Black History Month started, it was a necessary effort to educate students that more than white males shaped our country. People of color had largely been ignored in most textbooks.

From the day the first slaves arrived in Virginia in 1619 until today, African Americans played a vital role in America’s success.

Inventors, artists, scientists, humanitarians, entertainers and talented people in every walk of life deserve to be recognized. That’s what Black History Month was designed to do.

Today, U.S. history remains as relevant as ever — the history of all Americans, of every color. The recent release of “Red Tails,” a film about the famous Tuskegee airmen during World War II, shows interest remains among the public.

In these days of standardized tests that emphasize math and reading at the expense of other subjects, teaching history often becomes a secondary endeavor.

That’s a mistake. Teaching history educates young people about the importance of voting, about the importance of making informed decisions at the ballot box and of being a participant in the civic process. Votes cast in ignorance can be worse than not voting at all.

One reason the emphasis on Black History Month seems to have lessened in recent years is that schools are doing a better job of incorporating information about all Americans into the curriculum.

Teaching that we all are part of the same fabric, all part of what makes our nation strong, is a good thing.

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