CHERRY HILL, N.J. (CBS) — It all started with a letter in June that may go a long way to changing how African American history is taught in Cherry Hill schools. Seventh-grader Ebele Azikiwe, of Beck Middle School, penned a letter this summer to Cherry Hill School District, asking for a more comprehensive and accurate curriculum on African American history.

“Part of what we learn today is important yes, but it’s hardly anything compared to what we could and should learn,” Ebele said.

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And Thursday, Ebele was a guest speaker during a New Jersey Assembly Education Committee meeting.

“I come before you today asking and begging you that you help make a change in our schools. Black history needs to be taught year-round, not just over the month of February,” Ebele said. “We are too American history.”

The school district agrees.

“Much of what we study truly is whitewashed,” Cherry Hill Superintendent Dr. Joseph Meloche said.

Meloche says the district will now provide a more authentic study that isn’t narrowly focused on the slave trade after reading Ebele’s letter and speaking with Cherry Hill High School students.

“They’ve asked for a mandatory African American history class as a requirement to graduate from high school and that’s something we are moving forward with,” Meloche said.

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Ebele thinks that’s great but start sooner.

“If people are taught early we are not a threat, simply human, this would make a huge difference,” Ebele said.

The response at the state level was positive. There is no word yet on any change coming to classrooms statewide.


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