Last Friday we were so fortunate to have Samiya's grandmother, Mrs. Bridges come in to talk to us about her life and experiences growing up in Arkansas in the 1940-50s and living in Detroit, MI in the late 1950s and 1960s. We learned a lot about her very happy childhood growing up on a 100-acre cotton farm that her family owns in Arkansas. The students were so surprised to hear the only item her family had to purchase at the store was flour–everything else they raised or grew themselves. We learned that she had the pleasure of seeing Marian Anderson, Lionel Hampton and the Harlem Globetrotters through her school. Even though Mrs. Bridges was living in the south during before the Civil Rights Movement, because her family owned their land they did not experience the discrimination and extreme hardship that the majority of black people in the south did at that time. She did go to segregated schools and churches, etc., but fortunately her family was treated with respect. She told us that is was customary at the time for black people to refer to white people as Mr. Smith or Mrs. Jones, but they were in turn referred to as "auntie" or "uncle".
When she was a young adult in Detroit, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. came to her church to give a guest sermon. We had many questions for Mrs. Bridges, as we tried to figure out how her life experiences relate to the timeline of black history we're working on collectively. Many thanks to Mrs. Bridges for being such a kind and gracious primary source for our studies!
Much gratitude to Joe Bailey for accompanying the 2nd graders on his guitar for their performance of "We Shall Overcome" at the MLK Jr. assembly last Friday. I was so moved by how beautifully they sang and with such conviction!