In conclusion of Black History Month, PTM interviewed some students and a volunteer.
On people they learned about during Black History Month:
- “MLK Jr was shot by a person that was arrested, some people didn’t like him, and he won a Nobel Peace Prize.” Jaden, PTM student
- “My Reading Teacher [Ms. Gross] is letting us chose books about Black women and I choose one about MLK’s Wife [Coretta Scott King].” Ava, PTM student
- “I did a Langston Hughes presentation. I wanted to learn about him because he isn’t as well known. He didn’t speak about equality like MLK or act out about equality like others, but he wrote about it in his poems.” Kendra, PTM student
- “One of the things I most enjoyed…was the local Black history, especially learning about Preston Taylor! When I read of his industriousness, entrepreneurship, business ventures, property purchases and development…What a testament to this man’s strength, intelligence, courage and perseverance to have accomplished all this in the midst of oppressive laws and discrimination. I love that his legacy lives on in PTM’s name.” Janet, PTM volunteer
On what they are learning about Black History at PTM and elsewhere:
- “I also loved reading about the Queens of Black history, so many of them – women have been fierce for a long time, and I love that the PTM girls get to see that.” Janet, PTM volunteer
- “Black and white didn’t get the same. White people got good stuff and Black people didn’t get good stuff,” Jaden, on his visit to the civil rights section to the TN State Museum with PTM.
- “I have been learning about discrimination about beliefs, skin color, and even age…” Kendra, on Ms. Denita’s curriculum.
Students on importance of black history:
- “To learn about other people. How Black people changed the world for us... [It is] good for us to learn about bad cops. White cops and some Black cops are both treating Black people badly, they keep killing us, we’re just trying to live on this earth too. We’re all just trying to live.” Paris, PTM student
- “We need to know what people have gone through for many years and people haven’t been equal…. There are protests because this is the land of the free and we need to act free.” Kendra
- “We should celebrate that Black people should get good stuff now.” Jaden
Volunteer on reading Black History articles, listening to podcasts, and watching videos:
- “I also loved reading Zach’s old blog (and miss him!). I find myself in this kind of weird netherworld with respect to what is often the focus of conversations on race. It’s frequently framed as a black/white thing. I’m not Black and I’m not white, and there’s almost no where in my whole life where I’ve ever been in the majority in any room (except for being in the presence of my side of the family, or in Asia). I do know what it is to get “the look”, or to have assumptions made about me within seconds of just seeing me. I’ve always straddled culture and color. But, while I may not have what is often referred to as “white privilege”, I’ve definitely had “privilege”. In my lifetime, I haven’t had patents stolen from me (as one of Nicole’s links discussed), or been subject to oppressive laws. I’ve experienced every benefit in life that comes with the privilege of my parents having access to good jobs, affording a home, and providing all those “circles of connection” that are so important in life. With that, it can get easy to narrow my lens, to stop looking at life through someone else’s eyes. Volunteering at PTM, being challenged by new relationships or readings, has widened my lens. And in the end, I think Zach was spot on when he hailed “listening and learning” as key.” Janet
On role models and history makers right now:
- “My parents.” Kendra
Students asked two questions we would invite you to consider as the conversation continues beyond February:
- Kendra asked, “What person is not well known that you would do a report on for Black history?”
- Paris asked, “What do you think about what is going on right now?”