From the archives — Teacher: Don’t ghetto-ize black history


This story was originally published on Feb. 8, 2000.

By BILL GRAVES

The Oregonian

Geoffrey Brooks leans forward, bent at waist, head down so far he’s staring at the floor of his classroom.

“Yes, boss,” he says in a raspy voice as he shuffles forward a few steps, scratching his head, looking feeble and old. “I go get the cows out ‘n de pasture.”

Then Brooks snaps up straight, becoming once again the animated, lean, gray-bearded 52-year-old that his African American U.S. History students have grown to respect. He is showing students how slaves used fake humility to manipulate their owners and protect themselves.

“It is a form of resistance,” he says. “Slaves resisted. They didn’t just roll over and say, ‘OK, make me a slave.'”

Brooks has been teaching African American history to…

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