Friday I decided to go to The Museum of the New South in Charlotte, NC as a field trip for the girls. We are in the beginning of Black History Month at the Hamby Academy and learning about the Civil Rights Movement. I skipped some important Civil War lessons to begin with this because of the exhibit at the museum – From Selma to Montgomery. We did look at the log cabins and the old cotton gin they have on display. We talked about the lunch counter display from the sit in at the old Woolworth’s building (which isn’t there any more) and The Friendship Nine counter sit in in Rock Hill (which IS still there). They also had a bus with a video feed of when segregated schools and busing began in Charlotte. [Really, lady in the video, you would rather go to jail than send your kids to school with children of other colours??!!]
The girls saw displays of black and white water fountains. They were completely befuddled by why people would think the water was any different. Also, why was the one for blacks so “icky looking” – the pipes showed and were rusty and the girls said they wouldn’t want to drink out of it.
I think the hardest part for them was the exhibit of photographs showing the peaceful march from Selma to Montgomery and the police officers in gas masks tear gassed people. They also used clubs to beat men, women, and children who did nothing more than dare to ask for themselves to be seen as equals in society. People on the side of the roads with hateful signs. It made my 8 year old cry. I made me come very close.
She said it was a lot to think about and she needed time to process before she could share her thoughts on our experience. But one things she said stood out to me. “Mom, I don’t understand why people hate someone because the colour of their skin. It doesn’t make sense. People are people.”
We talked about everything we saw, while on the way home from the museum. We talked about why it was important to learn about these things. Why it was import to talk about what happened. And why the violence still hasn’t completely gone away. If we don’t remember the struggle, if we don’t talk about the horrible things in our past history, it is bound to happen again. We need to be able to recognize it for for what it is, about who the people who hate really are. Call a spade a spade, people. Racists. Racists need to be called out. If they aren’t, we will see the violence again. And not just in the killings of unarmed black kids, and the lack of prosecution in those cases. But in political leaders trying to make voting as difficult as possible at the poles, in police stopping a person of colour in certain neighborhoods, in store managers following around people while they shop simply because they aren’t white. Remember. Never forget what people have fought so hard for, for what people have died for. Do not let those today take away their hard won freedoms.
What are some of the things we are missing? What are some of the things you are going into with your classes and kids? Let’s share ideas!