MANSFIELD — The narratives in our history books aren’t always an accurate depiction of the past.

In the majority of classrooms K-12 across the country, students learn about African American heritage starting with enslavement in the U.S. colonies.

As a result, many Americans are taught little about the history of systemic racism and the many contributions of Black people to America’s economy and the democratic system. Educators also say there's more to Black history than just teaching about oppression and suffering.

“It’s so interesting that we still allow that history to take place,” said Crystal Davis Weese, a community activist and former educator, during a "Shop Talk" discussion in June. 

“They want those of us who have experienced (racism and discrimination) to just forget and move on,” she said. “I hope that, with the current days, that everybody feels more comfortable to open up and have those conversations and not be so quick to dismiss someone.”

Created by Damien Beauford, owner of 419 Barbershop, the goal of "Shop Talk" is open, honest discussion between the participants seated in the barber chairs.

For years, experts have been calling for a major overhaul of the K-12 curriculum so that Black history, which is vital to understanding American history, is better integrated into mainstream U.S. history classes.

While teaching accurate history is important, the panel agreed it will take a sense of honesty about both the past and the present for racial reconciliation to occur.

“I find it enormously important that we are connecting ourselves to the history as it was, not as it has been written and communicated by those who seized the power and didn’t let it go,” said Conor Bracken, a poet and professor at the University of Findlay. 

Additional guests included minister and community activist Bruce Bond, Ontario High School principal Chris Smith, community activist and former educator Crystal Davis Weese, motivational speaker Marquis Carter, and filmmaker Dr. Beth Castle. 

The discussion was moderated by Richland Source city editor Carl Hunnell.

419 Barbershop has partnered with Richland Source, Mankind Murals Inc. and DRM Productions to bring "Shop Talk" to life.

Richland Source editors moderated the discussions using solutions journalism principles to complicate the narratives and give space for understanding and nuance.

Subscribe and listen to the "Shop Talk 419" Podcast.

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