The only black women I remember learning about in school were Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks. Being from West Virginia, I should have also learned about West Virginia native Katherine Johnson, a physicist and mathematician for NASA — but I didn't know she existed until the movie Hidden Figures hit screens last year.

At the time, I barely noticed the lack of women — especially women of color — in my history books. I just assumed white men did all the great things. The whitewashing of American history is a wrong that many educators and activists are trying to correct, and it has brought out the ugliness of the white supremacism that still exists in this country.

In past weeks, news feeds have been flooded with images and narratives of Nazi sympathizers storming the streets, terrorizing fellow Americans. We've seen the president of the United States fail to immediately condemn this blatant portrayal of racism and domestic terrorism.

In the midst of these disturbing acts, we have people in this country and here in Columbia who are working to shed light on the historical figures we should be remembering. On Page 8 of this week's issue, you'll find the story of Annie Fisher. She was a black woman and an entrepreneur in the late 1800s who built fame and fortune on her reputation for making incredible beaten biscuits.

Verna Laboy, a Columbia activist, now travels to schools acting as Annie Fisher and telling her story. She's trying to right the whitewashing wrongs of recorded history. She gives a voice to the past, and she shows young students there have been great black women throughout history, even if they don't appear in history textbooks. There's still a long way to go, but people like Laboy help ensure our community knows about important black historical figures as we move forward to combat the racism alive today.

Recommended for you

comments powered by Disqus