Saturday, February 05, 2011

Black History Month

I have mixed feelings about these things. I really do, is it really necessary to have a month dedicated to Black History, or Hispanic Heritage? But, since my HS wanted to know what we were going to do for BHM, I decided to dust off an old lesson I had not taught since I was an apprentice at the Andre Agassi school.

Right now my honors kids are reading 'Letter From A Birmingham Jail', and I am glad I did it. Most of them didn't have a clue as to what real racism was, or why Dr. King was held in such high esteem. Happily I can report that now my honors kids understand both, especially because they also listened to Dr. Kings's 'Mountaintop' speech, which is the one he gave the night before he was assassinated.

My favorite part of the speech is when Dr. King is talking about getting stabbed in NYC by a crazy lady (is this Palin's fault too?) and relating how if he had sneezed, the blade lodged in his chest would have pierced his aorta and he would have died. This report made into the NY Times and a 9th grade student then wrote Dr. King a letter saying how happy she was that he didn't sneeze! (she also mentioned that she was white) This got his audience and my class laughing at her earnest innocence. I found it interesting that out of all the letters he had received after the attack (including ones from the President) that the one that he remembered most was the one from the girl. I guess we should not be surprised at this because he was, after all a man of God, and not after the fame and fortune that he received.

I am also doing some biographies this month as well for all my classes, including William Wilberforce, Dr. Condolelleza Rice and Bishop Tutu. It might make a welcome break from Romeo and Juliet for my regular classes.