Stories from March 2020 Dispatch
CSD Celebrates Black History Month
Clairemont's Black History Program
Last month's Clairemont Black History Program was an exciting celebration of Black history and heritage! The evening, which was MCed by two of the students, began with a rendition of Lift Every Voice and Sing, sung by Music teacher Ms. Nelson. We were so honored to be joined by the renowned African drumming group Giwayen Mata, and the brothers of Emory's Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity who performed a step routine. Clairemont students also performed a step routine as well as read poetry and a video of their art was shown.
F.AVE's Black History Performance
Ms. Carty organized, directed, and coordinated the entire event; Ms. B. Stewart added choreography; Mr. Madden was the art director; Ms. Chaney contributed the costumes and makeup; and Mr. Brooks directed the drumming. Thank you also to Ms. Theisen, Mr. Holliday, Mr. Robillard, Ms. Cain, Ms. Monroe, Ms. Waugh, and Ms. Mangual for their support for this event. Thank you to all these teachers who volunteered their time and talents to make this an amazing performance!
Talley's Wax Museum and Celebrates Black History Month
All Talley Street students were encouraged to help Talley Street Elementary celebrate Black History Month by participating in their living wax museum on Wednesday, February 26. Students then researched African Americans (both past and present) who were important figures in history or who have made a positive difference in our world.
Each student then wrote a short speech in the first person that they was read to an audience at the African American Wax Museum. Students also created tri-fold posters with pictures of the African American they have chosen and were asked to dress up as their person and bring props or other things that brought authenticity to their character. A special thanks to Ms. Brewton for helping organize this amazing event. Please see the video below for a montage of the students' wonderful work! To see the video, please visit https://youtu.be/Huw-DzYRts8.
Talley Black History Month Celebration
Talley also had a Black History Month Celebration on Friday, February 28th which honored spoken word, musical and dance performances in celebration of Black History - Past, Present, Future. The drumming group Giwayen Mata performed as well as Talley students from Project S.L.I.D.E.
Glennwood's Black History Month Read-In
At the end of February, Glennwood Elementary hosted their first African American Read-In in honor of Black History Month! Over a dozen black community leaders came to join us for this special event and to read to #OurKids at Glennwood.
Among the honored guests were Mayor Emeritus Elizabeth Wilson, Mayor Pro Tem Tony Powers, City Commissioner Lesa Mayer, Decatur Fire Chief Toni Washington, Decatur Police's SRO Anthony Robinson and Officer Kimberly Parks as well as Ariel Cornwall, children's book author of "The Story of Happy Tooth and The Sad Tooth." Special guests from the City Schools of Decatur's Wilson School Support Center included Daryl Campbell, Dr. Lillie Huddleston, Marcia Fowler, Maima Simmons, Tatrabian Lockwood, and Harold Rall. We owe a special thanks to music teacher Monica Nelson for her moving performance of "Lift Every Voice and Sing."
The idea of a National African American Read-In may be new to Glennwood, but it is not new to our country. In an effort to make literacy a significant part of Black History Month, the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English created African American Read-Ins almost 30 years ago! For more information, visit https://ncte.org/get-involved/african-american-read-in.
Glennwood is proud to start this new school tradition and as a result, is hoping to expose students to outstanding African American literature that is accessible and relevant all year round.
DHS Black Student Union Hosts a panel on MLK in Decatur
Did you know MLK was arrested and illegally sentenced here in Decatur?
Last month a notable panel of important Decatur residents discussed an event in Decatur that had a pivotal role in Martin Luther King’s life and changed the course of politics as we know it. MLK was ticketed for a minor traffic charge and went through a trial here in Decatur. The judge, who was known to be a racist, severely sentenced MLK to prison. However, John F. Kennedy, who was a candidate for president at that time, and his brother intervened to help MLK and made sure he would not have to go to prison. After JFK intervened on his behalf, MLK and his supporters asked all Black Americans to change their votes to JFK in the 1960 presidential election. This changed the way Black voters in our country voted going forward.
This panel was invited to speak by Decatur High School's Black Student Union who's members are working to get a historic plaque placed in Decatur to commemorate this incident.
Here’s the background information from the DHS Black Student Union:
Martin Luther King Jr. got a traffic ticket and was sentenced to a chain gang. Yes, this really happened, in Decatur, Georgia.
The Black Students Union at Decatur High School is leading a campaign for the creation of a Georgia Historical Society marker at McDonough and Trinity avenues in Decatur. At this spot in October 1960, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was sentenced to four months on a chain gang in a misdemeanor traffic case. John F. Kennedy and his brother intervened with segregationist Democrats to get him freed, and narrowly won the presidency days later. This pivotal episode elevating King’s national stature, accelerating the Civil Rights movement and revealing the power of black voters happened here in Decatur.
We have been spending months researching the facts of this case in preparation for the submission of our marker application later this spring. We’ve uncovered essential documents, including the case files of King’s lawyer and rarely seen news photos and newsfilm proving when and where King was illegally sentenced, and putting the case in historical context. We have been working with archivists at the King Center in Atlanta, the DeKalb History Center, Morehouse College, the University of Georgia, and Georgia State and Kennesaw State Universities.
We also are honored to be working with some eyewitnesses to the events of this story:
Charles Black, who co-founded the Atlanta Student Movement at Morehouse and was inside the courtroom when King was sentenced.
Dr. Roslyn Pope, who wrote “An Appeal for Human Rights,” the movement’s manifesto, while at Spelman College
Decatur Mayor Emerita Elizabeth Wilson, who witnessed the treatment of King and later desegregated the DeKalb Public Library
DeKalb Judge Clarence Seeliger, who defeated King’s sentencing judge, J. Oscar Mitchell, in 1980 and removed Mitchell’s Confederate battle flag from the courtroom.
To raise awareness and build community support for the marker, we’re unveiling our campaign on Feb. 13, at an assembly at Decatur High School (to be held from 10:15-11:45 a.m. in the school auditorium). The assembly will include a student-created multimedia presentation explaining the story, including historic documents and student interviews with Black, Pope, Wilson and Seeliger, who will then appear at a panel discussion about King’s treatment in Decatur.
We’ll follow up by reaching out to city officials for their support on the logistics of placing the marker, and by raising the necessary funds. The historical society will vote on our application in October 2020, on the 60th anniversary of this pivotal event in American history.
To view the video of the panel, please visit: https://youtu.be/RvTsT7DjEO8.