Harvard Educational Review
  1. Fall 1971 Issue »

    Rethinking Black History

    Orlando Patterson
    Increased racial pride and dignity have prompted Black Americans to demand an interpretation of the past that does justice to the Black presence. This demand has influenced the writing of Black history as well as the way it is presented in schools. The author delineates and then analyzes five prevailing conceptions of Black history: radical and conservative catastrophism, radical and conservative survivalism, and contributionism. He rejects each for relying on fallacious assumptions concerning "civilization" and African culture, and for employing inadequate historical methods. He proposes various steps toward the development of an authentic Black history, including less emphasis on the roles of leading Blacks in fundamentally white historical settings, and more careful study of the continuities and discontinuities between African and Afro-American culture. This approach, Dr. Patterson suggests, will require new comparative methods of historical inquiry, making more use of oral, non-written, and non-literary sources.

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    Fall 1971 Issue


    Rethinking Black History
    Orlando Patterson
    Prime Time for Education
    Early Childhood or Adolescence?
    William D. Rohwer, Jr.
    The Present Moment in Educational Reform
    Michael B. Katz
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