When you love America like you love your child

Al Womble is chair of the Iowa Democratic Party’s Black Caucus.

I was a student at Drake University in the early 1990s. What I enjoyed most about Drake was having classes that allowed me to truly get to know my fellow students, and to have discussions with them both in and outside of class. Our classes and our homework often brought up certain topics and ideas that would then extend beyond the classroom itself. We often stayed up until one or two AM talking and debating.

We had a history professor who wasn’t at Drake very long, because she moved on to a bigger east coast school. But she was a Black female history professor, and I remember her willingness to challenge students’ perceptions. That was a feature of the the Drake University environment, and I guess it still is true.

Someone once asked that professor why she hated this country. She said, “I don’t hate this country. I love this country. But I look at this country like my child. When my child has a sickness, I realize there’s something wrong and I have to do something about that sickness.”

I’d never heard anybody speak like that before. When you love America like you love your child, you want to do something about the sickness.

Recently, the Florida Department of Education approved a new Black history curriculum that seeks to erase the deep injustices surrounding slavery and Black history in America. Now, Florida students will be presented with a whitewashed version of U.S. history that teaches blatantly false information.

If some parts of America have started rewriting Black history, how long will it be before they start rewriting women’s history? How long before they start rewriting the history of trans individuals, or members of the LGBTQ community?

The Florida Department of Education is denying students a full education by banning resources, including AP Black history courses, as well as book after book that shows Black leaders in American history in a positive light. This sets a dangerous precedent for educational standards that embrace and advance racist ideologies.

There have been thousands of Black people, women, and others who have contributed to the birth and growth of this country. And I remember that American History professor of ours at Drake often talking about different Black scientists through the years. She talked about Black writers, their influence on American culture, Black musicians and their influence on the development of rock and roll itself.

She would also talk about the things that happened in American history that were ugly, and she said that these were important for us to know. It wasn’t just a matter of criticizing America. It was realizing our ugly side to make sure that we didn’t allow those things to happen again.

Along with the undersigned Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee members and Caucus Chairs, I am calling for a curriculum that teaches the full spectrum of history, including acknowledging the harm done to Black Americans who experienced enslavement in our nation’s history. We must also teach the stories of the countless Black leaders whose lives and works have helped shape America.

Al Womble, Chair of the Black Caucus of the Iowa Democratic Party

Also signed by:

Demarcus Carter, Chair of the Diversity/Equity/Inclusion Committee of the Iowa Democratic Party On Behalf of the 46 members of the Diversity/Equity/Inclusion Committee of the Iowa Democratic Party

Elizabeth Holtrop, Secretary of the Diversity/Equity/Inclusion Committee

Julie Russell-Steuart, Chair of the Disability Caucus of the Iowa Democratic Party

Brian McLain, Iowa Progressive Caucus Chair

Michelle Servadio Elias, State Chairwoman Military Veterans Caucus Iowa Democratic Party, Founder, Climate Environmental Caucus Iowa Democratic Party

Garret Frey, Vice Chair of the Iowa Democratic Disability Caucus

Tracy Murphy, Vice Chair, IDP Progressive Caucus, & Chair of Madison County Democrats

Anton Benjegerdes, College and Young Democrats of Iowa President

C.J. Petersen, Chair of Iowa Democratic Party Stonewall Caucus

Emma Schmit, Vice Chair of the Climate and Environmental Caucus of the Iowa Democratic Party

Top photo of Al Womble provided by the author and published with permission.

About the Author(s)

Al Womble