Another Black History Month just came to a close, following a year that brought us new legislation to ensure disabled and homosexual people are included in school history lessons.
There are some people who question the necessity of Black History Month and legislation like the FAIR Education Act (SB 48).
To answer that question, we need to ask ourselves: Is the history we have learned in school complete and accurate?
As I reflect upon some of the greatest history lessons that I have learned, they were not in the classroom.
One was a TV series called Roots. Roots gripped our nation as it told the story of slavery. Some refused to watch as they feared that such a real pretrial of our history would lead to violence. I believe the vivid lesson of slavery in America made us richer as a people and as a nation.
Another lesson was in world history. Most of us have studied World War II and the defeat of Nazi Germany. Many of the names we are familiar with that contributed to that success are Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Dwight D. Eisenhower and George S. Patton.
However, a man whose name is unknown to most people actually contributed as much as these other men to the victory of Germany: Alan Turing.
Alan Turing, born June 23, 1912, was an English mathematician and was considered a genius by many of his colleagues. Turing was instrumental in developing the modern computer and is considered to be the father of computer science and artificial intelligence. He was recruited to break the German’s cryptic machines.
The most illusive of these German cryptic machines was the Enigma machine, which had the brightest minds of the time baffled.
Upon viewing the Enigma machine, through stroke of pure genius, Turing intuitively understood how it worked and how it must be used. This enabled him to develop a series of techniques to break Germany’s cryptic machines, which played a significant role in the Allies’ successes against Germany.
In 1952, Turing was convicted of homosexual acts, and he accepted a treatment of female hormones to avoid prison. Two years later at the age of 41, Turing was found dead from cyanide poisoning. The death was ruled a suicide.
In 2009, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown made an official public apology on behalf of the British government for the way Turing was treated after the war.
When we look back at our founders, who were not without their faults, they laid down a foundation for our nation that was profound and genius in nature. They created a government by design that could self-regulate.
When our nation began it was far from perfect, but because of its unique balance of power, it allowed us to correct the grave mistakes of our past.
This balance of power included a means to protect the rights of a few, which allowed for women’s rights, civil rights, and gay rights. And learning our history accurately and completely plays an important role in the nation’s development.
Until the history we are taught in school includes all the lessons of beauty and brutality, the lessons of human triumph and of embarrassment, and does not exclude contributions based on gender, skin color, religion or sexual orientation, we will need Black History Month and the FAIR Education Act.
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I’m a 21 year Barstow resident, with 35 years of Broadcast experience at various radio and TV stations in L.A., Ventura, Bakersfield, Las Vegas, Palmdale/Lancaster, and the Victor Valley, finally landing for 12 years in Barstow at Highway Radio.