Guest Column: Mis-Education of Americans


In 1933, the father of African-American history, Dr. Carter G. Woodson, penned a book entitled, “Mis-Education of the Negro”.

The book itself was interesting literature, and within its pages were lessons of a people mis-educated to think they were inferior based solely on the color of their skin.

Today we need a revised version of that book entitled, The Mis-Education of Americans, which would not deal with bias based on skin color, but on the inaccurate history projected in public schools and universities throughout the United States.

Unlike The Mis-Education of the Negro, this new book would emphasize how the winners write the history, and in so doing, mis-represent the truth, denigrating the South, southerners, Native Americans, African-Americans, and the Spanish history of America.

America has a rich, long multicultural history, more history than is discussed in college lectures or grade school textbooks. It is a history that includes the role of Minorcans and free blacks in Florida, an Underground Railroad heading south before it ran north, slavery as a minor cause in the Civil War, and the Native American confederate basis upon which our nation was modeled.

The Mis-Education of Americans would be about how our education system has failed to teach an accurate, complete history of the country in which we live, and how we in St. Augustine, Florida need to be catalysts to bring Spanish Florida’s story to the national curriculum.

One prime oversight or deliberate omission in history textbooks is the mention of the Minorcans who marched north to freedom in St. Augustine from Turnbull’s plantation at New Smyrna, and how they established a presence that still thrives today, bringing stability to our city. Another point is the Eurocentric history, which excludes the presence of free blacks on Spanish expeditions or in the militia that protected St. Augustine from the British.

The Underground Railroad is also a prime disparity. Our current history textbooks start with the Underground Railroad heading north to Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Canada. Granted, the railroad did lead north, but that was over a hundred years after it ran south to Spanish Florida, which welcomed runaway slaves to freedom.

Our school books leave out the black heroes of the American Revolution, the Seminole Wars, as well as the Civil War—on both sides. Currently, we are taught that the Confederates were the Caucasian guys in gray, and the Union were the Caucasian guys in blue who fought to “free the slaves.” While slavery was an issue during the “War Between the States” it was very much secondary to the issues of tariffs, lower taxes, and states’ rights.

And black men served valiantly in both armies. In actuality, the confederacy and the confederate nation was started by six Native American nations from upstate New York. This form of government was the basis of the Articles of Confederation, the Declaration of Independence, and our American government today. The Native American confederate nations lived under their own rules for hundreds of years before European immigrants arrived.

Let us remember the people who made this nation, and who made it great. The United States is a great place to live, a worthy place, and worthy of recognizing all our founding fathers and mothers, who gave our country the strength and longevity we enjoy today. Let us re-educate ourselves and our nation, not to dilute our rich heritage, but to give credit where credit is due, and to enjoy our multicultural past, present, and future.

Derek Boyd Hankerson
St. Augustine, FL

Derek Boyd Hankerson is the Managing Partner of Freedom Road, LLC. Derek is former vice president of the St. Johns County Republican Executive Committee and was an alternate delegate to the Republican National Convention. Derek has been a leader in numerous community projects in support of Fort Mose, multicultural education and heritage tourism. Historic City News is pleased to be able to publish Derek’s periodic guest columns which are both informative and entertaining. Derek and his wife live in St. Augustine.