The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Local Education

February 8, 2014

Black history lessons focus on character, integrity

Modern students surprised by history of injustice, teacher says

ANDERSON, Ind. — Dontrez Braxton will have only a dim memory, if that, of a time before there was an African-American president.

Such a thing, which only 10 years ago seemed nothing more than an implausible future, is now part of the 8-year-old Valley Grove second grader's personal history.

Dontrez's teacher, Carlynn Malone, said she has long incorporated black history into her lesson plans during February when Black History Month is observed.

Although this year's many school cancellations and delayed morning openings has forced her and other teachers to adjust daily lesson plans, Malone has carved out time in the day to let children read books and hear stories about great African Americans like the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Ruby Bridges, George Washington Carver and others.

These stories, Malone said, are coupled with short writing assignments on integrity, bravery, and having a dream -- topics that students can apply to their own young lives.

"They're shocked in second grade to learn about the inequality that used to exist," Malone said, "but it's history they need to know about."

Dontrez has already learned about King and Parks who, on Dec. 1, 1955 in Montgomery, Ala. refused the order of a bus driver to give up her seat in the designated black section of the bus to a white passenger. Parks' defiant act became known as the Montgomery Bus Boycott and an important symbol of the modern civil rights movement, and also helped bring to prominence King, who at the time was a young minister in Montgomery.

Dontrez said he's already used that example of standing up for one's self and others in his own life when some kids were picking on his friends.

"I didn't like that and I told them to stop," he said.

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