Re­search­ing black his­tory

Fourth graders com­plete their first re­search projects

The Covington News - - School Beat - By Jenny Thompson

Stu­dents in Ge­or­gia gen­er­ally com­plete their first re­search project dur­ing their fourth grade year, and West New­ton El­e­men­tary fourth grade teacher Jean­nelle Carlisle thought Black His­tory Month posed the per­fect op­por­tu­nity for the re­search.

Carlisle had her stu­dents chose a per­son or or­ga­ni­za­tion to profile — cre­at­ing an in­di­vid­ual project, writ­ing a five para­graph es­say and giv­ing an oral pre­sen­ta­tion.

There was one stip­u­la­tion about who could be pro­filed.

“ No one was al­lowed to do Martin Luther King Jr. be­cause we wanted it to be an au­then­tic as­sess­ment of re­search and they al­ready knew a lot about him,” Carlisle said.

Stu­dents had to use three dif­fer­ent sources such as an en­cy­clo­pe­dia, book, Web site or news­pa­per ar­ti­cle.

Tashera Ca­ma­cho re­searched Mary Bethune.

“ I learned Mary Bethune was very fa­mous for help­ing young black kids go to school,” Ca­ma­cho said. “ Most kids were work­ing in the cot­ton fields pick­ing cot­ton, so they couldn’t learn to read or write.”

Born in 1875 in South Carolina to for­mer slaves, Bethune founded a school for black chil­dren in 1904 which even­tu­ally be­came Bethune- Cook­man Univer­sity.

“ Mary Bethune said, ‘ we’ve got our free­dom, now we need an ed­u­ca­tion,’” Carlisle said.

She also served as an ad­min­is­tra­tor for the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Col­ored Women, Na­tional Coun­cil of Ne­gro Women, and Na­tional Youth Ad­min­is­tra­tion and was a mem­ber of Pres­i­dent Franklin Roo­sevelt’s “ Black Cabi­net.”

Sev­eral stu­dents picked sports fig­ures to profile.

Tha­juana Mitchell learned about Jackie Robin­son, a Ge­or­gia na­tive who be­came the first black ma­jor league base­ball player. He played for the Brook­lyn Dodgers.

“ He was im­por­tant be­cause he was the first black per­son to be elected into the Na­tional Base­ball Hall of Fame,” Mitchell said.

Jesse Owens, 1939 Ber­lin Olympic gold medal­ist in run­ning, was pro­filed by Allyson Bent­ley. Bent­ley cre­ated a time clock of Owen’s life and told the class about his awards and Carlisle ex­plained the sig­nif­i­cance of his win in Nazi Ger­many.

“Adolf Hitler thought ev­ery­one that wasn’t like him was in­fe­rior, so he was up­set when Jesse won,” Carlisle said. “ Not only did the black Amer­i­can beat a Ger­man, but he beat a Ger­man in Ger­many on his home ground.”

Some stu­dents did projects about groups in­volved in the Civil Rights Move­ment.

Savannah Bray made a scrap­book and told the class about the “ Lit­tle Rock Nine,” or the nine black stu­dents who first at­tended the in­te­grated Cen­tral High School in Lit­tle Rock, Ark. in 1957.

“ I think they felt a lit­tle ner­vous and scared be­cause some of the white peo­ple wanted to hurt them,” Bray said.

John Sylvester re­searched the South­ern Chris­tian Lead­er­ship Con­fer­ence whose first pres­i­dent was Martin Luther King Jr.

“ The rea­son they’re so im­por­tant is they were deeply in­volved in the civil rights move­ment be­cause they helped start the Mont­gomery bus boy­cotts,” Sylvester said.

John Lewis, cur­rent U. S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive for Ge­or­gia’s 5th con­gres­sional dis­trict and for­mer chair­man of the Stu­dent Non­vi­o­lent Co­or­di­nat­ing Com­mit­tee ( SNCC) was pro­filed by Ed­uardo Con­tr­eras.

“ Ed­uardo is from the Philip­pines, which doesn’t have much di­ver­sity of cul­ture,” Carlisle said, “ so he doesn’t know a lot about this, but he’s do­ing very well.”

Con­tr­eras crafted a dio­rama de­pict­ing po­lice beat­ing pro­tes­tors on the Selma to Mont­gomery March as they crossed the Ed­mund Pet­tus Bridge.

“ Lewis was one of the key or­ga­niz­ers of the march from Selma to Mont­gomery,” Con­tr­eras said.

Carlisle said she graded the stu­dents on not only ac­cu­racy, but also cre­ativ­ity and thought put into their projects. Other stu­dents pro­filed the NAACP, Jesse Jack­son, Medgar Evers, Thur­good Mar­shall, Ju­lian Bond, Mal­colm X, Rosa Parks, Andrew Young, Ne­gro League Base­ball, Shirley Chisolm, Coretta Scott King, Ruby Bridges, Daisy and L. C. Bates and John Kennedy.

She asked her class if any­one learned what the term “ civil rights” meant dur­ing their re­search.

“ Civil Rights means blacks and whites and all races can come to­gether,” said She­ma­iah McCray.

Jenny Thompson/The Cov­ing­ton News

Show and tell: Stu­dents in Jean­nelle Carlisle’s fourth grade class at West New­ton El­e­men­tary Allyson Bent­ley, front left, Ta­nia Trevino, She­ma­iah McCray, back left, Par­ris Guil­lard and Ed­uardo Con­tr­eras, dis­play their Black His­tory Month re­search projects Wed­nes­day morn­ing.

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