By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Some tales are still alive through the words of those who are still alive from the Civil Rights Movement era. The history that dates back further is depicted through books, documentaries and can be found online.
But one of the longest used forms of communicating the historic feats of African-Americans has been art. EA Harrold Elementary’s Lori Campbell and Karla Hornsby decided to use colors and blank canvas to tell a portion of Black History through Jacob Lawrence and The Great Migration.
“We used the Millington Education Foundation’s grant to buy supplies, paper, paint and resources to do the paintings and teach about Jacob Lawrence,” Campbell noted.
Harrold’s fourth and fifth graders collaborated on the project for the month-long display. Once the children returned to school from the holiday break, they received their assignments.
The fourth graders drew pictures of Black artists from the Harlem Renaissance like Lawrence to modern day creators like Tameka Brown.
Brown is an artist in her 20s living in California. As she continues to shape her legacy, Lawrence is known for his portrayal of African-American life.
The painter, storyteller, interpreter and educator passed away in 2000. His work dedicated to The Great Migration is on display throughout the United States in Philadelphia and New York City.
Other featured artists on the wall at EA Harold include Faith Ringgold, Romare Bearden and Jonathan Green.
Meanwhile the fifth graders learned about The Great Migration and brought it back to life through painting.
The Great Migration was a movement of about 6 million African-American out of the Southern states to the more urban and industrial Northern, Midwest and Western states. The movement took place from 1910 to about 1970.
The students were able to illustrate that period how the Blacks traveled out of the South via the railroads like The A-Train. Steamboats were another alternative to a ‘better way of life.’
Some of the struggles during The Great Migration the students were able to paint were the riots over factory jobs, injustice in Southern courts, the development of the housing projects up north and even those who were sick with tuberculous.
“I took a picture of each one,” Campbell said. “And I took a picture of the real painting by Jacob Lawrence and put it in a powerpoint. Karla Hornsby is going to give each student to talk about that piece. Then we’re going to present to the Education Foundation. And we’re going to turn around and ask for another grant.”
Campbell said she hopes the lessons about Lawrence and The Great Migration have a lasting impact on her students.
“The way things are now and with what’s going on, I think it was a great time for this lesson,” she concluded. “I think it really connects with the children and what’s going on in the world today. I though it was really important for the children to learn this and to get a better concept of Civil Rights.