Cary Clack: Histories, too, go in melting pot

**Cary Clack** - Cary Clack
Welcome to Black History Month — that special month when we learn some of the things about black history that we can't get around to learning the rest of the year. It's that one month when every movie ever made with a black person and every documentary about blacks find their way to television.
Black history is the Cliffs Notes version of the Black Experience. Not unlike Women's History month for women, Hispanic Heritage Month for Latinos, St. Patrick's Day for the Irish and the Wurstfest for Germans. There's nothing wrong with devoting a day, week or month to spotlighting the history of any group and learning or being reminded of their contributions to the United States. We must celebrate all of the cultural streams that flow into this great ocean called America and make it unique.
There is something wrong in thinking that if you're Polish or Czech, black history doesn't concern you or that if you're black or Latino, the Jewish or Italian experiences have nothing to do with you. And all of us should understand how we're shaped by the American Indian narrative.
The problem is when schools don't weave together all of these cultures and histories in their curriculums throughout the year. But schools, for the most part, do a poor job of teaching history; not just American history but world, local and state history. Students would be better served studying more history instead of studying for the TAKS test.
Your history is mine. My history is yours. All of it is our history.
Today is the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth and the 100th birthday of the NAACP, a man and an organization who aren't only fixtures in American history but indispensable to this nation's progress.
Knowledge of history is important not only for its own sake but because it serves a larger and more unifying purpose. The better we understand each others' history and culture the less likely we are to be hostage to fears, stereotypes, misperceptions and misinformation, and the better we understand ancient heritages that shape this relatively young nation called America.
That's why one of my favorite local contests is the San Antonio Founders Day Essay and Visual Arts Contests open to students in grades 6-12. Yes, it's great that the contests (deadline is Feb. 28) offers thousands of dollars worth of scholarship money for students as well as money for the schools the winning students attend.
But because the topic is “How the History and Heritage of a Cultural Group Have Contributed to San Antonio,” it compels them to do some research about their hometown and to think about how San Antonio, like the United States, is about how many become one while not abandoning their distinctive cultural traditions.
Cultures are fluid. They mingle, merge, rub up against each other and take from each other. All of us carry many cultures in our bloodlines, and cultures create history.
Every month is a good month for students to learn as much history as they can. The more they know the better they will understand their country and themselves.
For more information on the San Antonio Founders Day Essay and Visual Arts Contest, go to www.SanAntonioFoundersDay.org.

Cary Clack's column appears on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. To leave him a message, call (210) 250-3486 or e-mail cclack@express-news.net