NEW ROCHELLE, NY — Students at Campus Alternative High School celebrated Black History Month in February by exploring the lives of African Americans who became prominent in the public eye because of their struggles, experiences and contributions.
In Joel Fridovich’s psychology class, students examined the case of Emmit Till, a 14-year-old boy who was lynched in 1955 in Mississippi after allegedly flirting with a white woman. The class explored the impact of Till’s mother’s decision to show her son’s beaten and distorted face in an open casket at his funeral. Those photos, which affected hundreds of thousands of people, gave momentum to the civil rights movement and demonstrated the power of images and the media in bringing change.
“In discussing Black History month events, many students were shocked and almost unbelieving about how horrible conditions had been in the past,” said Fridovich. “Some discussions focused on how sad and frustrating it is that racism still remains prevalent in 2017.”
Students in Devin Barletta’s American history class explored the causes and effects of the Great Migration. Half-a-million African Americans facing economic, social and political hardships in the south left for the urban north between 1915 and 1930, leading to the largest internal migration in U.S. history. When they arrived, they created communities that became the center of African American culture and life in the 20th century. Students explored the Great Migration through primary sources like images, paintings and letters to understand its impact through the eyes of those who experienced it.
In Karen Tucker’s English class, students wrote biographies about famous African Americans. These biographies discussed the subjects’ early lives, accomplishments and the reasons for their fame. Students also created visual representations of their biographies, which were then put on display at the school.
Margaret Angeletti’s art class created a collaborative design project on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Each student made his or her own stylized design, which was then combined with others’ to create a puzzle-like sketch of Dr. King. The finished work is symbolic of the belief professed by Dr. King: Work together for the benefit of all.