BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — UPDATE: Bakersfield Christian High School released the following statement on how they are planning to incorporate Black History. "BCHS values our diverse student body. The contributions made by all of our students to our Christ-centered, academically rigorous environment are invaluable, and we are actively pursuing ways to celebrate diversity and emphasize the equality of all human beings in Jesus Christ."
While celebrating Black History Month and elevating African American voices here in Kern County, community leaders say that African American history shouldn’t be limited to one month, but should be discussed and taught throughout the entire year.
Leaders across the country and right here in Bakersfield share that there is a great deal of African American history, 400 years worth, that has yet to be told. Now, one local pastor is teaming up with a statewide initiative to have that history told to everyone, starting in schools.
"I think when other cultures read and hear about the contributions that African Americans have made they will understand how important we are," said Gregory Tatum, pastor of Change Community Church.
Dr. Gregory Tatum, pastor of Change Community Church and a local activist, says that history starting in 1619 tells the story not only of the enslavement of African Americans but should also acknowledge and celebrate their accomplishments.
“We aren’t just basketball players or entertainers or football players but we have made great contributions to the nation."
Tatum says he believes the path to making those changes is through education — and he is one of many people across the country — who are leading the charge on the 400 years of African-American history commission act that became law in 2018 — that will help provide more of that history.
"The problem we are having is getting school districts to accept the curriculum because the pushback is that they have not come to grips with the reality that this is a necessity," said Tatum.
Tatum and other leaders in the community are currently in early talks with the Bakersfield Christian High School about incorporating African American history in some form throughout the year.
BCHS says this is just one of many steps they are taking on inclusion.
"We started the process back in 2018 by sending to various schools throughout the U.S. to let them know we have different models and hoping they accept those different models we are trying to push forward."
Bakersfield Christian High School says that we can expect an official statement on their efforts to educate their students on African American history sometime Tuesday morning or later this week.