I believe history can easily shape our views today of persons or groups. While ideas and values change over time, values and beliefs are passed down over generations. If a family holds primarily racist opinions of a specific cultural group, a child born into that family will know no better than what they are taught. Those views can be reinforced by what used to be acceptable in our history. And if we compound all of that with the fact that all behavior change is slow and arduous, it is easy to see how history can shape our views.
A specific example I can think of is the fear of Islam. Due to events such as 9/11 and Al-Qaeda, many people have a narrow minded view of the the Islamic religion. While many in the faith condemn the actions of the terrorists on 9/11, propaganda for anti-Islamic practices is rampant and can shape he views of people in a negative way.