Black History Hidden in Plain Sight

Black History Hidden in Plain Sight

Lucretia Berry  •   3

Because Black History Month is for acknowledging, honoring, and celebrating the contributions of African-Americans that are largely absent from the education on American history and formation, I typically stay away from teaching about chattel slavery during this time. As one of my Antiracism 101 high school students stated, “Black people are not the awful thing that was done to them.”

However, I chose to share with my students the audio from this piece on Old Salem’s Hidden Town Project:

This story not only discloses hidden history, but it highlights the importance of UN-hiding history so that whole humans and their contributions are not erased, so that false pedestals of perceived perfect people are toppled (in this case, Moravian enslavers), so that we learn a collective shared history, and so that we move forward UN-siloed and UN-divided in our understanding of the present. 

As fourth graders, our students visit Old Salem Museum & Gardens. Therefore, my students are very familiar with Old Salem’s very Moravian narrative, as are most North Carolinians. However, this story about Old Salem features an interview with someone they know personally – me! I am not Moravian. I am the descendent of the enslaved Africans whose stories were buried beneath the shame of the Moravians who were not supposed to have owned slaves. As a child, I learned all about the significant contributions of the Moravians sans the fact that they had a lot of unpaid help. Listen to how The Hidden Town Project is reconciling such an omission.

For my students, hearing my voice interjected into a story about Old Salem brought to life the impact of writing humans out of history and the significance of unhiding such stories.

Descendant Lucretia Berry wTimothy portrait by Leo Rucker Family Reunion visit
Me with depiction of Timothy, our family patriarch who was born in Guinea, Africa

History can be hidden in plain sight. Look around and consider where else humans have been erased and disconnected from their contributions.

Descendant touching the finger print of an ancestor who made the brick.

By the way, this year’s Black History Month theme is Black Resistance! YAY!

Lucretia is a former college professor, who founded Brownicity with the purpose of making scholarly-informed, antiracism education accessible in order to inspire a culture of true belonging and justice for all. Her TED Talk, ‘Children will light up the world if we don’t keep them in the dark’ (2017) is well received, as well as her books and courses:

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