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FMS creates Black History scavenger hunt

Social studies teacher Lynn Barnes created scavenger hunt displays on five walls at Farragut Middle School, depicting a black history timeline, famous black Americans and former President John F. Kennedy’s steps to pave the way for President Barack Obama, American’s first black president.

Students from Barnes’ seventh-grade orange pod at FMS are encouraged to participate in a scavenger hunt consisting of 26 questions. The answers are scattered throughout Barnes’ displays.

Famous black Americans such as actor Denzel Washington, pop singer Whitney Houston and talk show host Oprah Winfrey line one wall. Another has photos of black Americans who invented, pioneered, authored or acted in a way to “change” the world as they knew it during times of segregation and brutality against blacks.

In Barnes’ class, during February, she has a “Black History Moment.” She recently shared the story of Ruby Bridges, the first black student to integrate in Birmingham, Ala. Afro-American spirituals also are shared and students have the opportunity to ask questions.

One of her seventh-grade students, Garrett Curtis, said the display sparked conversation with his parents. “The era of the ’60s – in talking with my parents about it, they remember a lot of detail, there was a lot more people than Martin Luther King,” he said.

Fellow seventh-grade student John Hans said, “John F. Kennedy stands out to me because he really helped change segregation and Martin Luther King encouraged Kennedy to change the way we live.”

Barnes labeled drinking fountains in the school. One sign read “Only people with brown or green eyes may drink from this water fountain.”

Students were surprised to see first-hand how it was for blacks during times of segregation, Barnes said.

In remembering what it was like for them as children, FMS guidance counselor Bob Campbell and Barnes talked about some of their rebellion against the rules.

“Mr. Campbell told me he used to sneak and drink from the ‘colored water fountain,’ and I sat on the back seat of the bus [which was for blacks at the time],” Barnes said.

Campbell added, “I would sit in the back of the bus too.”

Barnes remembers that at Bearden High School, “Maybe in ’66, we had a black guy voted as a ‘favorite.’” Back then, BHS photographed each class favorite, a boy and a girl, and placed the photos beside one another in the yearbook. “But they wouldn’t put his photo in the yearbook next to a white person.”

Barnes noticed seventh-grade student Cara Mauck’s sketching talent in class and asked her to sketch a picture of a black man’s ankles in chains. “I wondered what the real person looked like and why this happened,” Cara said.

“Kids ask a lot of whys,” Barnes added.

“I feel like electing President Obama is the fulfillment of a dream. My generation has seen so much history,” Barnes said.

“There are times when I feel like I’m called to speak up,” she said, adding that she reminds herself daily to live by King’s quote: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”


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