What Happened in the 60’s?

Carter G. Woodson was a career-law student who decided to give a lecture on black history to his first-year class at school. As the lecture progressed, he discovered that the class was being almost entirely white and that many of the people in attendance were probably not even aware of the remarkable contributions made by African Americans.

It had occurred to him that this disparity between the way the races were taught in class and how they actually treated one another in reality could be explained by having a different perspective on the subject. If some blacks had been taught in class as equals, others would have learned to accept their different status as part of the natural order of things. When he presented this idea to his colleagues, the debate took a very different direction.

The discussion led Woodson to write a book, Black History: A White Man’s View. The book is an expose of the perceived discrimination that the white man suffered in teaching the history of black people. He explains how whites were taught to view black history in such a negative light. In addition, Woodson exposes the ignorance of the American public when it comes to black history.

In reading the book, I was reminded of how my own life had benefited from the experiences of others who had the same perspective that I did, especially during my childhood. I would come to see life through a different prism.

Most people thought that black history was related to slavery and the horrors of racism. For example, Dr. J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the FBI, never would have been able to stop two civil rights leaders from taking the stand in court that led to the desegregation of schools. The police would not have killed Martin Luther King. All the action of the civil rights movement was stopped by an action taken by an ordinary citizen, a father of four, as an act of self-defense.

Think about that for a moment. We may be looking at a difference in perspective, but the effect is the same – difference in perception.

The biggest change in perception was found when the white people were taught that the slaves were happy in their situation, that they enjoyed their work, and that they were glad to be in America. This had caused many white people to open their eyes to the terrible conditions that the slaves had to endure.

The white people were also taught to believe that there was an inferiority complex in blacks. That was one reason why so many people found it difficult to accept the existence of civil rights movements. However, in recent years, there has been an awakening of the attitudes of whites towards blacks.

Carter G. Woodson did not live long enough to experience this difference in perceptions and results, but it was not the outcome that he had hoped for. However, if you look at the history of the past two centuries, you will find that the changes in perception are in fact significant.

The events in the nation during the last century will never be repeated. However, the changes in perception will continue and change the future for everyone.

Carter G. Woodson had some insight into what is going on in society today. If you have been asked the question, “What happened in the 60’s?” The answer is that we all change, and our perceptions of that change will reflect our experiences.