Thursday, April 28, 2011

Emmitt Till

At the of the year, all of our students (who earn it) get to go on an end-of-the-year trip, and I'm going with the 7th graders on a Civil Rights tour of the South. The upper school teachers arranged it so that 7th graders have history every day for the next two weeks, in order to cover the Civil Rights Movement. Today was Day 2 and we learned about the murder of Emmitt Till. I found it hard to speak after watching that video. Our teacher paused it a few times for discussion and I looked around at our students with this lump in my throat. I'd studied the Civil Rights Movement in high school, and I didn't expect to learn that much more about Emmitt Till today. The information might not have even been new. The student I teach most of the day is fourteen, almost all of our students are African American, and Money, Mississippi is two hours away from New Orleans. I saw Emitt's mother differently too. She could have been the parent of one of our students. I think what made me angriest was the reaction of the courtroom when the murderers were found not guilty....high fives all around. The men and their wives were interviewed and all they could say was, "I'm just glad this is all over." Then one of the couples started making out on camera and it was just...ughhh. I could see kids' faces contorting like "wtf?"
This is going to be a really powerful trip. Granted, we're going to Six Flags and the Atlanta Aquarium and the Coca Cola factory, but I'm gearing up for an intense experience in Selma, Montgomery and Birmingham.