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Seventh Grade Social Studies Teachers Celebrate Black History Month

seventh graders watch video for Black History Month

In celebration of Black History Month, seventh graders at Henry H. Wells Middle School learned about a different Black American in social studies every day.

Seventh grade social studies teachers collect all of their information and resources into something they call a “Brain Dump,” which gives students access to everything that is covered in the day’s lesson. Throughout the month of February, an important Black American who has contributed to America’s history and legacy was highlighted in each day’s work.

“Because our curriculum deals with the beginnings of American history, we want our students to see that all people, no matter race or gender, have contributed to our history and that sometimes not all voices are given their due respect,” said social studies teacher Susan Barbato.

Some of the important people highlighted include well-known names like Frederick Douglass and Thurgood Marshall as well as lesser-known figures like Bessie Coleman (the first Black licensed pilot in the United States) and Benjamin Banneker (who called out Thomas Jefferson on the injustice of slavery).

"A lot of truths are washed away in history,” said seventh grader Caylie Constantine. “It is important to learn about the stories of African Americans since they impact our nation's history so much." 

To close out the month, all seventh graders watched the movie Ruby Bridges.

“In the fall, students in seventh grade social studies studied the Enlightenment Movement and how the work of philosopher John Locke influenced colonists to question and eventually rise up against Great Britain's constraints on their natural rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” said social studies teacher Marisa Gargano. “We tied in the story of Ruby Bridges and how her natural rights were violated in 1960 when she was the first Black child integrated into an all-white elementary school in New Orleans.”

One student was shocked by how poorly Ruby Bridges was treated.

"I can't believe that just because of her skin color she was treated so terribly,” said Xavier Arana. “It was really shocking to me, especially because she was a little girl." 

In March, the trio of teachers, which also includes Bridget Potusek, will highlight important women in our country’s history in celebration of Women's History Month.