Lewis W. Diuguid, Columnist
Kansas City Star, Tuesday, February 16, 1999
© Copyright 1999 The Kansas City Star
civil rights videos that Dennis Bobbitt showed recently in his
American government class seemed to move only two persons -- him
Washington High School seniors, the NAACP's Supreme Court victory
in the 1954 case of Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka was
stale history. So were states rights issues and the Ku Klux Klan.
Bobbitt had me share with the students the racist e-mail I regularly
get. I also let them know of the hate calls I've received because
of columns I've written on our poor state of race relations. Those
multimedia messages were enough for the students to see that the
textbook issues in American government that Bobbitt teaches are
still a problem.
to make the past relevant was a task I was happy to take on for
the Class of 1999 at Washington High School in Kansas City, Kan.
I've been studying with the seniors since they were freshmen to
learn what it's like to be a teen and teacher today.
painful sores of racism have scarred each century of this nation's
past and threaten to ooze into the new millennium. One civil rights
video showed black-and-white footage of Klan rallies.
how white supremacist groups had grown so much in popularity at
the turn of the century that even Supreme Court Justice Hugo L.
Black and President Warren G. Harding were once Klan members.
prompted me on another day in class to share a recent article
from The Kansas City Star on the Council of Conservative
Citizens. Bobbitt read the story to the students.
GOP Chairman Jim Nicholson appealed to Republicans to resign from
the council because of that group's "racist views."
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, a Mississippi Republican, and
Rep. Bob Barr, a Georgia Republican, have been criticized for
speaking at council meetings.
Council of Conservative Citizens has been called racist because
writers on the St. Louis-based group's Web site suggest the white
race is under siege. The council's scribes ridicule slain civil
rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and tout Confederate Gen.
Robert E. Lee as history's greatest American. The council doesn't
see itself as racist. Yet it opposes interracial marriage, prefers
a separation of the races and wants "to preserve a `white'
the students such "moral authority" groups are trying
to remake their image just as Confederate flag bumper stickers
today say "Heritage, Not Hate." These are important
Black History Month issues.
wrote "ethnocentrism" on the board. That word is part
of America's history. He and I also said such power and control
issues constantly test our government and Constitution, which
keep majority rule from trampling minority rights.
1990s additions I made to the lessons in Bobbitt's class provoked
a lot of comments from students. Nannette Young said racism and
ethnocentrism make no sense. Royce Ann Jackson, April Wilson and
Shanell Downs questioned why walls exist among races when everyone
enjoys others' culture. LeAnna Watson, Jennifer Rogers and Jeanine
Hegwood agreed. LeAnna said the problem is ignorance.
answer has got to be education for students at Washington High
School and the rest of America if peace is ever to have a chance.