CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte Mecklenburg School (CMS) Superintendent Dr. Clayton Wilcox says he is adding African American History courses to all CMS schools starting next semester. Some high schools already offer the class but some don’t. Wilcox says he will also add Latin American History classes. Wilcox says this is personal for him.
"I am a Mexican American and I don't see my people's history really told in history courses," CMS Superintendent Dr. Clayton Wilcox said. "And I know that from experience. I was a teacher for 16 years. I taught Science and I never remember talking about Mexican scientists. I never remember talking about African American scientists except for that rare occasion in February when it was Black History Month."
Wilcox believes the way Black history has been taught in the classrooms in the past may have been distorted.
"Many white folk," Wilcox said. "And I don't say that in any pejorative way, have kind of viewed history as through a lens that white people did all those."
Charlotte's top educator says classes will be voluntary but down the road could assign certain students to the history classes. Wilcox thinks the classes could help propel students to greatness like other people in the history books.
"We want to make sure that people understand," Wilcox said. "For example that the origins of Mathematics probably came out of Ancient Egypt and when you begin to look at who was in Ancient Egypt - it wasn't a bunch of Caucasian folk, and so whose birthright is this? It's not to denigrate or say one party didn't have a say in this, but it's to tell an accurate story about history."
Wilcox says he wants the history classes to be intentional and offer a fresh perspective. The superintendent says he will reallocate money in the budget if need be so teachers can have the necessary resources and professional development needed.
"It's not a class that I think anybody will benefit from," Wilcox said. "If we are just telling different stories about the same old people."
Parents and students are excited about the move. Students say they would take the classes while parents say learning about other people's history and culture will help students live together more peacefully.
Wilcox is determined to make these classes work. He believes this is the right thing to do.
“Obviously there are always those boo birds out there,” the superintendent said. “But we are going to air on the side right in this - and if we make a mistake along the way - shame on us but we won’t make them again.”