Two years ago, when I was teaching fourth grade, the students had the opportunity to interview and chat with a graduate of the school who was now a professor and critically-acclaimed poet. As I shared the accomplishments of our special guest the students sat engaged and eager to hear more, so I decided to show them a video of him speaking. I pressed play and the students sat eagerly anticipating what would be a dynamic performance. It took only seconds to reveal the poet’s face and in the very moment his melanin adorned frame was revealed I heard a student gasp and say, “Oh my gosh he’s Black!” I looked away from the screen to see which one of them shouted in amazement to find that it was the Black student in my class who was teary- eyed and ecstatic. I too began to tear up, slowly finding the words to say, “Yes, sweetheart he is.”
Joshua Bennett spoke to my class that day and when his time with us had come to an end that same student went up to him and asked him for his autograph.
Why does this matter?
1. There are stories that are missing.
2. It helps us embrace our culture.
3. Everyone should have characters or images they can relate to.
4. Visuals matter. "We live in a world where things we visualize is considered truth, it is important to consistently remind not only ourselves, but others of the trials and successes that African Americans have endured." -Femi Lewis
5. Everyone deserves to see themselves in their heroes.
photo: Eunique Jones, Because of Them We Can