JAMESTOWN – Elementary students in Jamestown recently learned about Black History Month to help students better understand hardships suffered in the 1960s.
“A Black person who wanted to eat at a diner in the south could not sit at the same counter where a white person sat,” said JPS Technology Integration Specialist, Jeff Kresge. “I know it’s not fair but remember our dream is that all men are created equal and the constitution says, ‘We want to create a more perfect union.’ In this time period, Black people are being told they cannot order lunch at the same counter as a white person.”
Kresge spoke to third grade students at Fletcher Elementary School through Zoom about the four African American college students who sat down at a lunch counter at Woolworth’s in Greensboro, North Carolina.
“On this particular day, the white waiter refused to serve four black students and they sat there all day until the store closed so no one else could sit in their seats, meaning the store would lose business,” furthered Kresge. “The news came in, took pictures and it was in many newspapers and on television. More people saw it and thought it was a good idea and three days later the seats at Woolworths were filled with Black people protesting.”
Kresge was presenting to students as part of Black History Month with their teacher, Corey Brown.
“I asked Jeff to present because he was my former social studies teacher in seventh and eighth grade and I distinctly remember what a wonderful storyteller he is,” said Brown. “I had him present the information about John Lewis, one of the organizers of the 1960s sit-ins and a leader in the civil rights movement, because I knew the students would take away a great understanding of the importance of standing up for what you believe in and for what is right.”
Kresge’s presentation is just one-way Brown is helping her students better understand Black history.
Brown asked her Jamestown Justice Coalition’s Teacher Collective for recommendations of five stories to tell during Black History Month and received a huge response. She is telling daily stories about influential African-Americans that may have not received as much recognition as others, or that her students can relate to, such as: Claudette Colvin, Catherine Harris, Misty Copeland, Richard Wright, Muddy Waters and Chadwick Boseman.
Students will also have another presentation from Justin Hubbard from the Justice Coalition: Teacher Collective about Chuck Berry. Students will write a story about the person who inspires them the most with Brown’s goal for them to relate to one of these stories and recognize their worth and potential to make a difference in their lives.
“An important take-away from the project and celebration of Black History Month is to my students see the value in doing what’s right, standing up for social justice, and knowing that they can make a difference no matter what their age, background, identity, or race is,” said Brown. “I want all my students to feel represented and know that there are so many people out there we can learn from. I also want to lead by example and to see how important it is to promote love, acceptance, and equality.”