During Monday night’s Jeopardy broadcast, the first Semifinal match of the college tournament, the competitors made quick work of all of the board’s categories except one.

The participants—Whitney Thompson, a junior at the University of Oklahoma; Tucker Pope, a junior at Texas A&M University; and Laurie Beckoff, a sophomore at the University of Chicago—breezed through a number of questions during the second round on topics ranging from “Weather Verbs” and “Kiwi Fauna,” to “World Cinema Showcase,” and “Talk Nerdy to Me,” but were hesitant when it came to the topic of “African American History.”

As a matter of fact, the trio left the Black History category until the very end, because…save the best for last?

Let’s be clear: The African American history questions were not difficult at all. One read, “In August of 2013, bells rang out across the country to mark the 50th anniversary of his ‘I Have A Dream Speech,’” and another said, “It’s showtime at this Harlem theater that began hosting its amateur night in 1934.”

Yup. Seriously.

While the entire scene made for slightly uncomfortable, yet awkwardly hilarious viewing, the contestants answered three of the five questions correct, only missing the ones pertaining the 1st Rhode Island Regiment and Scottsboro Boys. Yay?

Take a look (skip to the 15:56 mark):

  • geenababe

    Not really surprised, I heard that a lot of schools are starting to not teach or only teach a limited amount of black history. These students probably went to school were it either wasn’t taught, they didn’t care to learn, or they didn’t pick up a course in it because once again it wasn’t important to learn to them. Is this why I saw an article where they were doing “Ghetto Jeopardy” on some social networking site

  • J.Nicole

    I was hoping this was a joke. Most of these kids don’t feel they need to learn our history. Plus, many schools don’t place any emphasis on it, and when they do, we know it only starts with enslavement and ends with Dr. King; maybe there have been some revisions to include President Obama. Every day there’s a message that shows people our history doesn’t matter. I noticed that while watching those Ancestry commercials. They only profile some white person seeking their European lineage, which ends up being some type prestigious back ground. We need to all speak up; parents, teachers & concerned adults to see that our history is included in these curriculums, but also make sure we’re doing it in our own homes as well.

  • Yardyspice

    This is just shameful.

  • Bobby Thomas

    I am willing to say that without a doubt if these were 3 of our brothers or sisters, they would have gotten less correct. Sad but likely true.

  • sincere1906

    With regard to Bobby Thomas claim that black contestants would have gotten less answers correct, will have to disagree. As a collegiate teacher of history, I’ve found that black students (including freshmen) arrive with an established foundation (even if sorely limited) of African-American history beyond their non-black counterparts. Much of this seems to come from attendance at majority black public schools, their religious institutions, family or social media circles/interaction.

  • Denver

    “I am willing to say that without a doubt if these were 3 of our brothers or sisters, they would have gotten less correct. Sad but likely true.”

    Right. Because most of ‘us’ are uneducated or undereducated.


  • myblackfriendsays

    This is why black history month and special electives about everything that isn’t about white straight males come to bite us in the ass. I understand that the topics are important, but when we put them off into these separate categories, we give people the option (that they happily take,) to ignore them. If they were incorporated more fully into general history or literature classes people would learn more about them.

  • nononsense57

    I watched Monday’s episode and cringed when I saw the category because I expected they wouldn’t know anything. I wasn’t surprised that the African-American category was chosen last. However, I was VERY surprised that Whitney from U of Oklahoma guessed the answer about Phillis Wheatley. That wasn’t an easy one, I don’t think too many people, regardless of color, would have gotten that one.

  • bk chick

    I’m not surprised. If you watch jeopardy on any regular day, I’m always amazed by the random, and esoteric info the contestants seems to know, then they throw in a random question about black people, world wide, (outside of maybe entertainment), they turn into bumbling fools lol. It’s something I’ve always noticed but this clip is extra embarrassing, yet illuminating.

  • Reason

    What?! No G.W. Carver peanut questions, Jeopardy? I’m impressed.

  • Tylers

    Not awkward at all. What would be awkward is three African-American contestants that could only answer 3/5 questions on African American History.

  • Kattified

    I remember in Elementary and Junior High school (both multi-cultural schools) that all grades would spend all of February learning about Black American History. We touched on slavery, but spent most of the month focused on the contributions and positive changes that Blacks made. We even had one of the Little Rock Nine speak to us about her life and what it was like to go through what she did. I think that too much of Black History is spent on slavery to the point that most people assume that that is all Black American History is about. I think more schools should focus more on the changes and contributions that were made than just on slavery.

  • rachel

    The concept of African American history makes no sense. History made by African Americans, like history made by any other race in America is AMERICAN history. No one says “white” history. This talk is exclusionary. White people show know basic history created by all Americans!

  • Q

    Thank you! My sentiments exactly.Focusing on more positive, and recent!, contributions we’ve made in the US and around the world could do wonders for challenging ignorance. No matter what race/color anyone is, they can be ignorant of their true history in it’s entirety. We’ve been stripped of our culture for centuries, and today’s school systems do barely enough to satisfy the claim that some black history is taught in History classes. To an extent, I can’t blame/shame black people for not knowing their history. We must continue demanding more effort of schools or other educational outlets(if not ourselves, and a personal desire for knowledge) or they truly will ignore us, and our history, all together.

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