Digging a Little Deeper Students Act out Lesser Known Aspects of Black History

By Garmoe, Patrick | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), February 19, 2007 | Go to article overview

Digging a Little Deeper Students Act out Lesser Known Aspects of Black History


Garmoe, Patrick, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Patrick Garmoe Daily Herald Staff Writer

When the students stepped beyond the first curtain, they saw a black man sitting among a pile of old chains, describing the torturous journey across the Atlantic from Africa.

Next, the sixth-graders met a couple picking cotton, talking about how long it might be before the master sells one of them, or their children.

"Many white folk don't care about splitting up families," lamented an actress portraying a slave named Mazy.

Then the students slipped into a secret passageway, hidden by a bookcase in the home of an abolitionist.

The event earlier this month, spearheaded by McHenry County College sophomore Arielle Payne of Lakemoor, was aimed at teaching children a bit about the significant but perhaps lesser-known aspects of black history.

There was no mention of Martin Luther King during the event on McHenry County College's campus. Instead, Payne set up a mock-up of the Cotton Club of the 1920s that was famous during the Harlem Renaissance.

The period during the early 1900s was marked by the flourishing of literature, art, music, dance and social commentary within the lack community of Harlem.

The walk through historical highlights ended with a teacher chatting with an actress portraying Ruby Bridges, who, as a child in November 1960, walked up the steps of William Frantz Public School in New Orleans. She was the first black student at the formerly all-white elementary school.

"I didn't really pay attention to how much they had to work to get to where they are now," said Ali Domanico-Fitzgerald, a sixth- grade Johnsburg Junior High School student, after seeing the event. …

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