Witnessing History

Today at school we watched the inauguration. Our school district only gets so much internet so we were cramming kids into 3-4 rooms to watch. I was in the library with about 150 kids and 15 adults. The stream was slow and we actually only heard the oath because the picture was frozen. It was interesting to watch 9 and 10 year olds watching this. They knew it was a big deal, Lord knows I stressed it enough in my classroom. They were excited, but I don’t think they fully knew why they were supposed to be so excited. They knew it was the first African American president and that was a big deal, but I don’t know if they can grasp the significance of that.  Here’s a scary story, a few of my kids wanted to know why they were making a big deal out of Obama, because they thought that Kennedy was the first black president.  YIKES!

 They were so funny, we were watching the speech on a site with closed captioning and every time people on the screen would clap the word applause would pop up. As soon as the kids saw this they started clapping like crazy.  They were pumped.  They all stood for the National Anthem without us telling them to.

Later, when we returned to class I showed the kids some pictures a friend took on a trip to Memphis.  She had some good ones of the Lorraine Motel which has been turned into the National Civil Rights Museum.  I highly recommend people visit this place.  It gave me the chills to see the room that he had stayed in before he was killed.  Anyway, I think the kids finally got it when I showed them those pictures.  We talked about Rosa Parks, the people who went to the white only restaurants and sat at the counters, and Ghandi.  We talked of peaceful protest and the pen being mightier than the sword.  All in all I think I got through to some of them.    I think teaching about the Civil Rights movement is extremely important, especially in the small rural town where I live.  It bothered me that when I began teaching 9 years ago there were teachers who would make racial comments.  I was shocked and made it my mission to make every one of my students leave my room knowing that people should be judged based on their character. 

I will now step down from my soapbox and leave you with a photo from my vacation to Memphis.

The Lorraine Motel site of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

The Lorraine Motel site of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.


3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Ryan on January 24, 2009 at 2:29 am

    Except each of those people have some major shortcomings…..Ghandi’s character isn’t all roses… he slept naked young women to “prove” he had conquered lust. Frequent with his naked 19-year-old grandniece and other extended family.


  2. Posted by kzkt77 on January 24, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    I’ll be sure to mention that to my 4th graders.


  3. Thanks for the laugh about Kennedy being the first black president.


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