Nearly 83 years have passed since Carter G. Woodson first designated February as a time to celebrate African-American history.
Woodson, known as the founder of black history, started Negro History Week to shine a light on a piece of the nation's memory that had long been hidden. His hope was that one day, black history would be so tightly woven into America's fabric that the need for separate recognition would cease.
In the wake of Barack Obama's ascendancy to the highest political office in the nation, area educators said the historic election marks a major step in the direction of Woodson's dream. But we're not yet there, they say.
"My hope is that Obama's election demonstrates that African-American history needn't be separated from mainstream American history," said Winthrop University history professor and Rock Hill school board member Jason Silverman. "Because that's what Obama makes every day now -- American history."
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But, he added, "we've always been a nation obsessed with race. It's going to take a lot more than Obama's election to convince me we have come full circle."
While the election hasn't altered their approach to teaching black history, educators said Obama's run for the White House made for an unprecedented teachable moment.
"We were able to connect what we were studying to the world around us," said Adolphus Belk, a Winthrop assistant professor of political science. "I had a lot to talk about ... because every day there was something new. It helped reinforce what students had been studying."
But, Belk said, "I don't think we've reached this point where we're even acknowledging the experiences of others into the way that we teach our subjects. I still have students who say to me 'I didn't study that in high school.'"
After Negro History Week was expanded to Black History Month in 1976, public schools took the opportunity to concentrate African-American history lessons in February.
In her experience, Castle Heights Middle eighth-grader Brittany Burris said, she's found that to be true.
"I think they should teach it more," she said.
Some teachers have, but it's tough.
"South Carolina teachers are so bound by (academic) standards that they should take advantage of every opportunity to discuss African-American history," said Frederic Campbell, who teaches eighth-grade history at Castle Heights Middle School in Rock Hill. "For a history teacher such as myself, (Obama's presidency) is a perfect segue. We're riding a wave of bridge-building right now."
Campbell said the combination of President Obama's appeal to youth plus students' access to information online and in print is propelling their interest.
He sees it as a hook to connect Obama to lessons on Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt and the Great Depression.
"On our word wall in class," he said, "we have 'inauguration.' A lot of kids didn't know what inauguration meant before."
The question to ask, said Castle Heights guidance counselor Linda Kennedy, is: "Is black history being integrated into the standards?"
She considered Burris' comment, then said: "If a student makes that kind of expression, maybe people need to listen."