Historian Edward Beasley challenged Kansas University students Wednesday to study African-American history and use that knowledge to improve society.
"Students, let us not be academic zombies, living as though in a trance," said Beasley, dean of instructional services at Penn Valley Community College, Kansas City, Mo.
"Take the knowledge gained in your classes and internalize that knowledge and become a living experience, not a zombie," he said.
Beasley has a doctorate in history and wrote "Black History," a television and radio series presented on more than 65 stations around the world.
He spoke in the Kansas Union to about 35 students. His lecture was sponsored by the Office of Minority Affairs as part of Black History Month.
BEASLEY, alternating between soft and hard tones as if speaking from a pulpit, told students to "fight prejudice, racism, discrimination wherever you find it."
All people must work together to build a better tomorrow, he said.
"We can't do it alone. We can't do it as blacks. We can't do it as whites. We can't do it as browns. As I said earlier, the future is in your hands," he said.
He said black history has been swept under the rug too often. A black woman fought in the Revolutionary War, calling herself Robert. She received a military pension, but "where is her name in history books?" Beasley asked.
In response to a question, he said black history should be important to white students.
MANY WHITE Penn Valley students have said they feel cheated by accounts of American history that deleted the contribution of blacks, he said.
"I've had white students say, `I've been lied to,'" he said.
During the lecture, Beasley commented about the improving status of historically black colleges.
He said the schools are becoming more attractive to students, in part due to better recruitment and racial problems at campuses in which whites are in the majority.
Enrollment at U.S. black colleges increased 10 percent in the past five years a time when many traditionally white colleges saw enrollments fall, he said.
The nation's black colleges are important because they offer students a special identity, said Beasley.