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Classroom Speaker Panel: “Race in Education”

By: Valerie Edouard and J. Alex Pruner
DonorsChoose.org staff was recently visited by an engaging speaker panel from E.L. Haynes Public Charter School in Washington, D.C.  The event was a panel discussion about their recent classroom field trip, Tracing the Movement to Draw a Different Future: Civil Rights Tour of the South. The panelists shared their diverse points of view about the field trip from the perspective of student, teacher, and former principal.
This was the third annual field trip created by Barrie Moorman, AP U.S. History Teacher. Students and teachers traveled across eight states in seven days to visit civil rights landmarks such as the National Civil Rights Museum, Martin Luther King’s Ebenezer Baptist Church and the Rosa Parks Museum. Barrie described their journey, “We visited key landmarks in Atlanta, Tuskegee, Montgomery, Birmingham, and Selma. At each stop, students reflected on the past and were challenged to consider how they plan to make a difference in the future. At the Southern Poverty Law Center students signed their names on the Wall of Tolerance, showing their pledge to interrupt injustice they see around them.”
Student Duanje Stowes shared her impressions of visiting the Edmund Pettus Bridge, “You can actually feel the presence of history makers and you can connect better than if you just read a book.” Duanje is a senior at E.L. Haynes High School and is involved in her school community as a tutor and classroom assistant, secretary of the Gay-Straight Alliance and a founder of the Senior Squad. This past December, Duanje helped to organize a student protest at her school in support of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Duanje and her classmates were motivated by the upcoming fieldtrip to create their own activism, “It’s important for teens to know it’s not just Dr. King and it’s not just Rosa Parks: I can make a difference today.”
Michelle Molitor was a founding staff member of E.L. Haynes School and served as the Principal from 2007-2014. In 2014, Michelle created FREE, the Fellowship for Race and Equity in Education, to help schools and education organizations discuss the effects of systemic racism in education. Michelle and Barrie have facilitated workshops with the National Education Association, Washington, D.C. public school district and City Bridge. “Often times we as Americans are not taught to have skills and vocabulary to have these conversations about race,” said Molitor. “The more opportunity you give your staff to talk openly about race, the better your chances are to serve your students, teachers and community.”

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