Civil Rights Movement & New Orleans

I’m catching up from an unintentional blogging fast. We took on the Civil Rights Movement a couple of weeks ago. A rather large undertaking for one week, but certainly a lot of material to work with. And then we took on New Orleans last week, coinciding with Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras. I didn’t think about how the two topics would feed one another, until I was speaking with the Armstrong group about the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and the folks left behind in it’s wake.

During the Civil Rights Movement week,  I  used the book, Teammates, that told Jackie Robinson’s story. I read the book to the older children and then had them split into group and had each group answer a different question about the book. When I was working with the Magellans, 2nd & 3rd graders, one of the sub groups had the question, “What do you think it felt like to be Jackie Robinson?” And they came up with this (without any help):

  1. Sad
  2. Humiliating
  3. Irritated
  4. Proud/Happy
  5. Mad
  6. Ignored
  7. Questionable
  8. Crabby
  9. Lonely
  10. Believable
  11. Loved
  12. Afraid
  13. Not confident
  14. Different
  15. Badly treated

I was so impressed with the words they came up with to express how they might feel. Wow.

One of our staff members, Cari, turned a cafeteria table into a bus and had the children separate by some characteristic- clothing, eye color. The ones with the “desired” color got to sit at the front of the bus and the others had to move to the back. She put Dickson’s experiential theme into action by letting children experience what it felt like to be treated differently because of a physical attribute. It was a powerful moment of learning for our kids and staff.

Now on to last week -New Orleans  Wedged in-between the school Mardi Gras celebration on Tuesday, and Valentine’s Day Thursday, we had a wild week. And oh, let’s not forget Ms. Amanda’s King Cakes – she made four of them for us- on Friday. I spent some time talking to the Armstrong group about Hurricane Katrina. They were all just 3 & 4 when it came through so they didn’t remember it. I showed them some footage from the storm and the rampant destruction and desperation in it’s aftermath.  It’s even hard  for me to believe that folks lived in the Superdome for 6 days, waiting to get out. One of the  Armstrong’s noticed that most of the people left behind in the Superdome were black. We talked about what that meant. Why didn’t folks leave? Why did it take so long to get them out? Even if I had the time, I can’t answer these questions. But it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be asked. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t share how the images from Katrina made us feel.  I personally think it is a dark moment in our nation’s history and watching all that footage again, some of which I had never seen, was a sobering reminder that we still have a lot to overcome.

Onward and upward to Volcano Week.


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