A Killeen native who has graduated at the top of his class in multiple schools, has dedicated a lot of his time in recent years to understanding intercultural relations, and he said his studies are connected to black history.
Eric Gaither, a contracted researcher has also worked as a researcher at the Gerald R. Ford Library in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he has conducted research about the impact of the Self-Determination Act under the Ford administration on Native Americans and African American freedmen.
The act gave tribes power to exercise their own sovereignty and “control their own affairs,” according to the National Library of Medicine.
Gaither has also been studying different languages that he said he calls “American heritage languages.”
Most recently, Gaither has learned Czech, through Blinn College in Schulenburg, and Cherokee from the Cherokee Nation Learning Center in Talequah, Oklahoma.
Gaither said his studies connect to black history, because in the Jim Crow era, many people groups, such as Italians, Asians and Czechs, were considered black. Because of that classification for those groups, Gaither said many of them mingled and associated themselves with African Americans.
“Being mindful of the historical context in which Black History Month emerged is central to understanding and appreciating its significance,” Gaither said.
Gaither said that the one key figure to Black History Month is Carter G. Woodson.
“Black History Month emanated from Negro History Week and the work of Dr. Carter G. Woodson, in 1926, during the interwar period and Harlem Renaissance,” Gaither said. “I think it is important to be mindful of this fact, to avoid revisionist history.”
Gaither said he believes people should read Woodson’s works.
“One of the most important exercises in which every person should engage is a cover-to-cover read of Woodson’s seminal works ‘Miseducation of the Negro’ and ‘The Negro in Our History,’” Gaither said.
Gaither’s interest in intercultural relations has led him to obtain two masters degrees — one from Dartmouth University and one from Baylor University.