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Rosenwald News


Last updated 2/26/2020 at 4:47pm

Bethel "A" Baptist church members celebrated black history by wearing traditional African attire. Following the Sunday service, they enjoyed a soul food dinner. Pictured from left to right are Altha Gordon, Wilma Lewis, Mary Benjamin, Gloria Williamson, Sheila Mooney and Sherry Edington.

Rosenwald resident Elizabeth Pell called with her best guess at the mystery photo from last week. Elizabeth first thought that it might be the old Rosenwald School, but then she remarked that the pictured brick was not the same yellow type of brick of the school, so she ruled that out. She thought that the stained glass that she spotted, "Makes me think of a church, but I don't know what church."

Well, good guessing Elizabeth. I will give you all one more week and then I'm telling. An additional clue: There is a tree in the photograph. I called it the "Tree Of Life." In actuality, the proper name is the "Generational Tree." Does that ring a bell for anyone?

February is coming to a close. I hope that you were able to stop by the Transylvania County Library to see the wonderful displays for Black History month. Make sure to give a special thank you to Edith Darity and Marcy Thompson – both for providing excellent coverage not just this month, but every month of the year. One of the featured figures was Gertie Mance Hemphill. Mrs. Hemphill was a teacher in Transylvania County for more than 40 years before her retirement in 1961. She taught at both Glade Creek School in Pisgah Forest and Rosenwald School in Brevard. She was an inspiration, tirelessly working in community service and church affairs until her death in 1969.

Did you know that Black History Month, also known as African-American History Month in America, is an annual observance in the USA, Canada, and the United Kingdom, remembering important people and events in the history of the African diaspora. It is celebrated annually in the United States and Canada in February, and the United Kingdom in October. In a recent news article from the Washington Post titled "Beyond slavery and civil rights: What parents need to know about Black History," I found several offered suggestions towards reaching the full potential of the month. Here are a few ideas and recommendations that were gathered from black parents, experts, racial equity strategists, educators and people who talk about our country's harsh history for a living:

•There is a lot more to black history besides slavery and civil rights. It is a time too to celebrate black achievements. There is a complete and "ongoing accounting of the way people of African American descent have been thought leaders, builders, designers, creators, pioneers, scientists, farmers, philosophers, musicians, medical practitioners, soldiers and educators throughout history."

•History needs to be taught to be inclusive, lifting up other voices whose stories may have been left out in the past.

•Don't whitewash slavery. Don't minimize, play down, distort or alter facts for your convenience or comfort level. Have honest and real discussions.

•If you are going to talk about slavery, do it properly. For middle school age and higher, suggested are conversations about race and injustice, power dynamics and consent. An important added discussion relates to slavery's role in building wealth in this country and the lasting impact of racial oppression.

•Educators and textbooks must "step up" to adequately teach the history of American slavery, to be more inclusive and accurate.

A report by the Southern Poverty Law Center found that only 8 percent of surveyed high school seniors were able to identify slavery as the central cause of the Civil War. They also lacked a basic knowledge of the important role it played in shaping the United States and the impact it continues to have on race relations in the U.S.

A former educator, Grayman, asked, "How many teachers know how to approach a lesson about our country's complex and complicated history about the stolen lands and stolen hands that created the wealth that made this country great?"

A wonderful resource with facts that every graduating senior should know is from the website "Teaching Tolerance: Teaching Hard History: A Framework For Teaching American Slavery." The download is free with additional free resources for teachers.

•Help your child be anti-racist. Talk to your children about racism. Have a conversation with white tweens and teens about their privilege and how they might benefit from that. How might their experience be different from a black peer, with the police, for example? When working on school projects, consider marginalized voices and perspectives.

•Demonstrate to children how to be an ally. Teach by example. Model speaking up when you see injustice. Talk about how your freedom is tied to the freedom of others. White supremacy and racism impacts us all, so frame it more collectively.

•Choose resources carefully. Here are a few to look into: SPLC's Teaching Tolerance website is a treasure trove on how to facilitate conversations about race with students of all ages. Resources and training sessions on discussing difficult history are provided by the Monticello Teacher Institute, the National Education Association and the Racial Equity Institute. Two books to look into for younger children are "Henry's Freedom Box" by Ellen Levine (our library has a hard copy and the audio book) and "My Name Is James Madison Hemings" by Jonah Winter and Terry Widener. The latter is a powerful historical picture book about the child of founding father Thomas Jefferson and the enslaved Sally Hemings.

Gloria and Tommy Williamson's outfits were designed and handmade by Janice Fervil in celebration of Black History month.

Our library has an electronic book version. Think local. Our local black history walking tours are suitable for youth through adults. Brochures about the various historical tours are at the Chamber Of Commerce and on Morning Glory Inspirations' website.

•The "n-word is off limits, no matter how much your kids love hip-hop."

•Think beyond February. Simran Noor, an equity strategist shares, "Black history is American history is world history. The month could spark a collective reckoning for the nation to both mourn the darkness that is the history of enslaving and oppressing a people, while also celebrating the resilience and amazing contributions of black people. That project of reckoning has to go well beyond a month."

(Newsworthy items for submission for Rosenwald Community News are welcomed from community members, churches, clubs and groups. If you have an idea for a story or interview for me to capture, let me know at or call (828) 421-8615.) Enjoy your week.


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