Newswire: New Smithsonian exhibit shows racism against Emmett Till continues today

Emmett Till and Desecrated sign from site where his body was found

By Hamil R. Harris

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – In the middle of the night, 14-year old Emmett Till was snatched from his great uncle’s home in Drew, Mississippi. Then an angry White mob beat, tortured and then shot Till before they used wire to connect a fan blade to his head to sink his young body to the bottom of the Tallahatchie River. The brutal lynching of Emmett Till on August 28, 1955 was on the mind of 13-year-old Yolanda Rene King at the March On Washington for Voting Rights rally Saturday, Aug. 28. During her speech, Martin Luther King’s only grandchild asked for a moment of silence in honor of Till, who she said, “was about my age.” Only blocks away from where she stood, a brand new exhibit was about to pay homage to that same memory. Although thousands have filed past the casket of Emmett Till displayed at the Smithsonian’s Museum of African American History and Culture, on September 3, a new exhibit was set to open in “Flag Hall” of the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History that shows the recently bullet-riddled road markers where Till’s body was found. This is desecration that starkly indicates the level of racism and White supremacy still infesting America. “These signs were part of a long-standing history that has intentionally been suppressed and in some ways attacked,” said Tsione Wolde-Michael, 34, the Smithsonian’s curator for African American Social Justice. She added, “The community has shown its resilience in erecting a new sign every time it is shot up.” Wolde-Michael continues, “Till’s murder and open-casket funeral became a catalyst for the civil rights movement…And now in what would have been Emmett Till’s 80th year, this vandalized sign demonstrates the ways histories of racism and violence continue into the present. Our Mississippi community partners have continuously risked their lives to commemorate and interpret this history, and we are honored with the trust they have placed in the Smithsonian to steward the sign and bring its story along with Emmett’s to the public.” The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History will open “Reckoning with Remembrance: History, Injustice and the Murder of Emmett Till” as a monthlong display of the bullet-ridden sign that was placed by the Tallahatchie River in Mississippi in remembrance of Emmett Till beginning Sept. 3. Smithsonian Curator Nancy Bercaw said Jerome G. Little, who died in 2011, pioneered the effort to preserve the Till story and the signs. He was the first African-American to serve as the president of the Tallahatchie County Board of Supervisors. “The signs were shot up, people defaced them with acid. But every time the Emmett Till Memorial Commission pulled themselves together and raised the funds and put up another sign,” Bercaw said. After Little died, his friend, Jesse Jaynes-Dimming has been working with the Emmett Till Memorial Commission to keep Till’s legacy alive. Anthea M. Hartig, Ph.D., Elizabeth MacMillan director of the National Museum of American History, said the museum will present a program on Sept. 2 entitled, “The Long Battle: The Work of Preserving Emmett Till’s Memory, a Conversation with Community Leaders from Tallahatchie County, Mississippi.” Reverend Wheeler Parker, a civil rights activist and Till family member and Patrick Weems, executive director of the Emmett Till Interpretive Center in Money, Mississippi, teamed up with curators and officials from the Smithsonian to hold the conversation and present the exhibit which will go on public display Sept. 3. The Museum is located on D.C.’s Constitution Avenue N.W. between 12th and 14th streets. Access information can be found at Americanhistory.si.edu or by calling 202-633-1000. Wolde-Michael said that In 2019 she and a group of historians traveled across Mississippi looking to learn more about the Emmett Till sign story. The reception was positive toward having the national exhibit. “This is about establishing long-term relationships in the community. This is just the beginning.” The sentiment is mutual. “We are thrilled to partner with the Smithsonian National Museum of American History,” said Weems. “The citizens of Tallahatchie County have struggled to keep Till’s memory on the physical and cultural landscape. We are honored that the Smithsonian has taken an interest in this important American story.” The exhibit is deliberately placed in the museum’s most prominent location, across from the Star-Spangled Banner exhibition at the building’s center. The Till sign works to preserve the memory of an African American boy’s murder while demonstrating the ongoing nature of anti-Black violence in America. A companion webpage will also become available Sept. 3. In 2008, the Emmett Till Memorial Commission erected nine historical markers to commemorate Till, but the signs have been stolen, riddled with bullets or thrown in the river. The 317 bullet punctures on the sign collected by the museum, the second of four placed at the river site, serve as a reminder that the racism that caused Till’s death still exists today. The commission erected a new bullet-proof marker in 2019 and donated this historical marker to the museum. “The National Museum of American History is deeply honored to collaborate with the Tallahatchie community to preserve and present the legacy of Emmett Till,” said Hartig, “The history of racial violence is often erased and highly contested in the battle to define American memory, and this vandalized sign demonstrates the ramifications of ongoing efforts of remembrance and social justice. Racism does not only reside in the past. It inhabits our lived reality.” The installation of the Till Historical Marker is part of the museum’s new vision outlined in its strategic plan, which is centered in outreach and commitment to communities and provides a place for people to explore the complexity of the country’s shared history. “The Emmett Till Memorial Commission has been working for 15 years to change the physical and cultural landscape of Tallahatchie County, Mississippi, and the road to remember has not been easy,” said Weems. “So it is with great appreciation that we are partnering with the Smithsonian to honor and remember Emmett Till and the struggle that our community has faced to commemorate his life and legacy and to create the conditions for racial healing.” As Delta variant cases surge, 221 Community Health Workers reach out to 1.8 million people in rural underserved areas to promote vaccination Special to the Greene County Democrat Insert photo of Black man getting COVID 19 vaccnation

Newswire: Is there more to Teaching and Learning Than Testing’?

By Barbara D. Parks-Lee, Ph.D., CF, NBCT (ret.), NNPA ESSA Awareness Campaign

Classroom scene

Teaching is a multi-faceted calling for many and an occupation for some, but how can teaching and learning effectiveness be measured without testing?
There must be some way—or ways—to measure what and whether students are learning, and teachers are teaching. Rigor, high standards, curriculum design, learning and teaching styles, and external demands all must be considered in any teaching and learning situation, regardless of location and resources.
As the teaching population becomes more monocultural and the school-aged population becomes more multicultural, teaching materials, beliefs, and techniques tend to rely too heavily on standardized tests and testing materials. In order for education to capitalize on the strengths and talents of learners and the skills and professionalism of their teachers, what kinds of additional progress measures might be employed?
Different kinds of professional development programs and materials may be needed to provide more sufficient and culturally responsive information about the teaching and learning process.
One way of assessing whether students are actively engaged in learning on a high level might be using multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary materials such as those in an original textbook of poems, shorts stories, and essays.
The book, Connections: A Collection of Poems, Short Stories, and Essays with Lessons,became part of a study in the Washington, D. C. schools and surrounding Metropolitan areas of Prince George’s County, Maryland, and Alexandria, Virginia, from 1996-2001. (Parks-Lee, 1995)

It addresses some of the challenges Gloria Ladson-Billings pointed out when she quoted Jonathan Kozol, saying that “…Pedagogic problems in our cities are not chiefly matters of injustice, inequality, or segregation, but of insufficient information about teaching strategies.”(Ladson-Billings*, 1994, p. 128)

Both neophyte and experienced teachers participated in a study that provided them with information, materials, and teaching strategies to employ with urban, poor, and predominantly, but not exclusively, African American youth.
The idea for the study originated with a concern that an increasingly middle class or suburban teaching force often seems unable to meet the needs of diverse students who are different from them in class, socioeconomic status, geography, ethnicity, and/or culture.
The Connections materials were intended to help address ways to foster a positive impact upon all children, but particularly upon children of color. In addition, teachers using these materials might also feel more empowered to think creatively and to utilize students’ strengths and talents as they incorporate high and rigorous interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary lessons and higher order thinking skills in order to increase academic achievement.
Effective teachers believe that we must produce and use materials that encourage students to be able to read, to write, to speak, to be creative, to understand, and to interpret what they hear and read. If students can develop these proficiencies, they may experience greater success on standardized tests.
Success breeds success, and if our students are to be involved learners and thinkers, we cannot keep doing the same things the same ways and then blaming students and teachers if standardized test scores are not optimal. There must be more inclusive ways of tapping into and measuring what is taught and what is learned. Standardized tests are but one way and should not be the onl y way to validate the teaching and learning processes.
There are three domains to teaching, the cognitive, the affective, and the psychomotor. The one that is not easily addressed by standardized testing is the affective domain.
As Sharon M. Draper says, “You must reach a child before you can teach a child.” (Draper, S., November 2002). The challenge comes when trying to measure the affective domain. However, affective success is often reflected in student attendance and behaviors that are involved, on-task, and diligent.
There is often a spirit of collaboration and cooperation between the teacher and the students. Fewer discipline problems are observed when there is a positive classroom community involved.
When diverse students are allowed to utilize their talents and skills, they often become self-motivated, because they feel affirmed, valued, and respected.
*Ladson-Billings, G. (1999). (Notes from speech delivered at Howard University).