Student success is also about building character

By TEA Executive Director Terrance Gibson

For many, February is a celebration of the resilience, triumph, and the enduring legacy of the African American community. As a Memphis native and later a Nashville educator, Black History Month has always held a profound significance for me, intertwining the rich fabric of my communities and the broader narrative of African American history.


Memphis, with its deep-rooted cultural heritage and pivotal role in the Civil Rights Movement, is a city that resonates with the echoes of the past. Growing up amidst the soulful sounds of Beale Street and the historic significance of the Lorraine Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. took his last breath, I learned early on the power of education in shaping perspectives and dismantling barriers.


Black History Month, to me, is not just a token recognition of achievements; it is a call to action. It’s an opportunity to amplify the voices and stories that have often been marginalized or overlooked. As an educator, I see the classroom as the foundation for building understanding, tolerance and appreciation for diversity. It is in the halls of our great public schools that we can impart knowledge and guide the next generations of critical thinkers.


Curriculum studying the contributions of African Americans should not be confined to a single month but should be woven into the fabric of our educational system. Black history is American history, and its stories should be seamlessly integrated into the broader tapestry of our collective past. By doing so, we equip our students with the skills to appreciate the complexities of the world around them and instill a sense of empathy that extends beyond racial and cultural boundaries.


As Tennessee educators, we must be committed to showcasing the cultural wealth that exists within our communities and encouraging students to take pride in their heritage.


Black History Month provides us an opportunity for dialogue and understanding. It is an opportunity to confront uncomfortable truths, acknowledge historical injustices, and collectively work towards a more equitable society. In Memphis and across our state, where the struggles of the past are etched into the very streets we walk, this month serves as an important reminder that the journey towards justice is ongoing, and education is our compass.


As educators, we stand at the intersection of history and the future, recognizing the responsibility to impart not just knowledge but a passion for justice and equality. This Black History Month, let us celebrate the achievements, acknowledge the struggles, and, above all, commit ourselves to the continuous pursuit of a more inclusive and enlightened society. Our students are the key to such a society.