Explore America’s failures in teaching Black history with Dr. Cornel West, Roxane Gay & Darren Walker

This SiriusXM collaboration with Axios dives into the education system’s failure to thoroughly teach the history of African American and Indigenous people.

Jackie Kolgraf
February 26, 2021

SiriusXM will broadcast Righting History, a SiriusXM special made in collaboration with Axios on HBO about the failures of the American educational system in teaching Black history. The program will air on February 27 at 2pm and 11pm ET and on February 28 at 12pm ET on Urban View (Ch. 126).This hour-long special features audio from three influential people: philosopher, political activist, and writer Dr. Cornel West; writer and social commentator Roxane Gay; and President of the Ford Foundation Darren Walker. These interviews were originally filmed for a segment on the acclaimed news and documentary series Axios on HBO and will premiere exclusively on SiriusXM Urban View. The interviews take a deeper dive into the education system’s failure to thoroughly teach the history of African American and Indigenous people, and the broader effect on society.

During the special, Dr. Cornel West talks about his memories of Black history in school:

“Black history, let alone brown history, working-class history, poor people’s history, women’s history, all of that was outside of the classroom when I was coming along. When I attended school, America was still so much locked into a chronic form of denial. They didn’t really want to come to terms with the truth, and the condition of truth is to allow suffering to speak. And so, a whole host of people who were suffering past and present whose experiences didn’t filter through the curriculum.”

Roxane Gay speaks about moments from her childhood, growing up in a racist institution, and when she realized there was a significant “gap in my education”:

“We understood the racism because the institution was and is deeply racist. The curriculum was never as diverse as it should’ve been. And I had grown up in predominately white areas for all of my life, and it was a predominately white institution and so I didn’t even know to question it. I didn’t know that it was a problem until I got to college, and then beyond, and realized I have this entire gap in my education.”

Darren Walker says he cannot recall learning about Black history during his education:

“Race and justice and black history was not taught in the schools I attended. I attended public schools first in Ames, Texas. I was fortunate enough to be in the first class of Head Start in the summer of 1965. And I started my education there, not really aware fully of my own history and certainly not taught that history in school. I do not recall my entire K through 12 education reading about anyone African-American other than Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and George Washington Carver, the scientists who made advances in agriculture in the United States Beyond that, I really have very little recollection of being taught the history of America that includes the history of African-Americans.”