L-Dub Students Lead Black History Month

 Black History Month at Lake Washington Girls Middle School

L-Dub students Savannah ’17 and Soleil ’17 have launched a #BlackHistoryMonth project to introduce important, influential, and inspirational women of African-American history to our community. Some women already adorn our red lockers, but many will be curated by the pair themselves.

Black History goes far beyond the 28 days of a calendar, and could never be covered in one month. From its troubled beginnings of oppression and trying periods of segregation that birthed the movements that inspired change, leading all the way up to those who ignited new waves of magic and empowerment, there is definitely a lot to cover. Soleil and Savannah are bringing recognition to both the ups and down of the black experience, acknowledging triumphs and pioneering causes, and many stories that didn’t make it into textbooks. The influential leaders, agitators, and un-sung heroes they are highlighting have made their mark in history, and at L-Dub, we celebrate them.

 
My intention for our black history month projects is to honor and celebrate the ones before us who have made a way for black people in America. I also want to give light to the ones who are not as publicized and known. There are many many people who have helped create change and began movements, organizations, and brought hope to get us to where we are today. Without our heroes in history we would not be this far in our journey to peace, freedom, hope, and equality. I want to make sure that we take the time out this month to recognize and honor our black heroes. The month of February should not be where we stop, we have to make sure we carry this with us all year and appreciate our history forever.
— Savannah '17
My intention for black history month is to really understand and know why we are where we are today. Without these fantastic activists, that we have decided to highlight this month, black people would still be in slavery, there would still be bathrooms determined for white and blacks, people would still be sitting in the back of the bus, and equality would be forgotten. I want us to know where we started but I also want our community to know that we have to pick up where these heroes left us and to be just as brave as our black heroes. Because we are far from done. Without these activists, I wouldn’t be able to be in a school like L-Dub. I wouldn’t be able to be in such a diverse, respectful community where we can celebrate each other’s differences. I wouldn’t even be taking on such an amazing project like I am now. So, together we will celebrate this amazing month and celebrate these amazing heroes.
— Soleil '17
 
  Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler

Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler

(February 8, 1831-March 9, 1895)

→ Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler was the first African-American woman to receive a medical degree in the U.S. 

→ She was raised by her aunt, who most likely influenced her decision to go into the medical profession, especially since medical care for the needs of poor blacks was almost non-existent during the antebellum years.

→  Between 1852 and 1860, Crumpler worked as a nurse in Charlestown, Mass. However, a wider door had been opened for women physicians across the country, possibly due to heavy demands for medical care of Civil War veterans, leading a new generation of women — including Crumpler — to pursue an M.D., which she earned in 1864 from New England Female Medical College. 

→ It was an amazing achievement, being the first woman of color to break down the walls of racism and sexism. 

→ After the war, Crumpler moved to Richmond, Va., where her main focus was on the health needs of freed slaves. Her experience there, and later in Boston, led her to publish her now-renown Book of Medical Discourses In Two Parts, one of the first known medical writings by an African American and an early guidebook on public health.

Ella Josephine Baker

(1903–1986)

Ella Baker was an active civil rights leader in the 1930s, she fought for civil rights for five decades, working alongside W.E.B Dubois, Thurgood Marshall, and Martin Luther King, Jr. She even mentored well-known civil rights activist, Rosa Parks.

Around 1940, Baker became a field secretary for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. She traveled extensively, raising funds and recruiting new members to the organization. In 1946, Baker became the NAACP's national director of branches. She later resigned from her NAACP post.

In 1957, Baker joined the Southern Christian Leadership Conference as its executive director at the request of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The SCLC was a civil rights group created by African American ministers and community leaders. During her time with the SCLC, Baker set up the event that led to the creation of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in 1960. She offered her support and counsel to this organization of student activists.

While she left the SCLC in 1960, Baker remained active in the SNCC for many years. She helped them form the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party in 1964 as an alternative to the state's Democratic Party, which held segregationist views.

 

LWGMS WINNERS OF WSHERC's 2014 HOLOCAUST WRITING, ART, & DIGITAL MEDIA CONTEST

This year the Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center (WSHERC) reviewed approximately 700 entries for the 2014 Jacob Friedman Writing, Art, and Digital Media Contest from students, grades 5-12, representing 64 classrooms from schools in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Alaska. 

This year the focus was on children, rescue, resistance, liberation, and refugees.

A panel of judges – educators, artists, and writers of various faiths and backgrounds – reviewed the entries. They looked for creativity, thoughtfulness, an understanding of the theme, as well as evidence of students relating their piece to a specific Holocaust testimony, text, or event. Judges wanted to know how Holocaust stories and events effect students personally, and how these students might change the way they react to future injustice.

All Lake Washington Girls Middle School sixth grade students entered the contest, and we are proud of each and every one of them for their thoughtful compassion and empathy.

Six members of the Class of 2016 placed in this year's contest:

WRITING – 5TH/6TH GRADE

1st Place: Mena, Grade 6, Lake Washington Girls Middle School, Seattle. Teacher: Lindsey Mutschler. "Hope. There was a reason that this word was scarce during the Holocaust. There just wasn't enough. People in the Holocaust suffered unmentionable horrors, horrors that left many scarred and hopeless, with good reason." READ MORE

3rd Place: Mara, Grade 6, Lake Washington Girls Middle School, Seattle. Teacher: Chelsea McCollum.  "When someone says the name, 'Hannah Senesh,' what words come up when I think of her? For a start, she was brave, courageous, loyal, and confident. She was a Hungarian Jew that parachuted into enemy country during the Holocaust to help Jewish communities." READ MORE

ART – 5TH/6TH GRADE

3rd Place (TIE): Maya, Grade 6, Lake Washington Girls Middle School, Seattle. Teacher: Lindsey Mutschler. Artist's Statement: The Anonymous Girl Diarist from the Lodz Ghetto was a young girl who lived in the Ludz Ghetto. She wrote in her diary every day for months. Her words were inspiring and really showed life in the holocaust in a beautiful, poetic way. For the contest, I wrote a poem in the shape of this girl. The poem tells of the girl’s words and their impact on me and my perception of the Holocaust. Surrounding her, there is barbed wire is made up of her quotes. I chose her because her words really changed my perception of the Holocaust: that girl could easily have been me.

WSHERC_2014_Maya.jpg

Honorable Mention: Rachel, Grade 6, Lake Washington Girls Middle School, Seattle. Teacher: Lindsey Mutschler. Artist's Statement:  My art piece is of a bird cage with the names of the groups of people who were targeted in the Holocaust leaving the cage. The bird cage is black to represent the darkness of their world during the Holocaust, and also to represent being locked up and not able to escape. I chose to have the words colorful because it shows the diversity of the people and how they can’t just be a Jew or a Gypsy because that was how the Nazis saw them. I chose to do this art piece because it shows the victims growing and keeping hope even after the war.

WSHERC_2014_Rachel.jpg

Honorable Mention: Stella, Grade 6, Lake Washington Girls Middle School, Seattle. Teacher: Lindsey Mutschler. Artist's Statement: My art piece is a mix between markers and collage. My art piece represents Kindertransport. The scene in my art piece is of some kids from Kindertransport on a boat going back home. I did silhouettes instead of detailed drawings because a lot of the kids when they came back their attitudes and expressions had changed because during the war they had to grow up fast and be able to take care of themselves and many others. The Star of David is there to represent that they’re Jewish. I wanted to do a symbol for Kindertransport because I am a kid and I wanted to learn more while I was making this art piece.

DIGITAL MEDIA – 5TH-12TH GRADE

2nd Place: Julia, Grade 6, Lake Washington Girls Middle School, Seattle. Teacher: Chelsea McCollum.  "Brundibar"

Those who entered the contest were asked to address its theme by creating a piece about a real person, event or story that inspired them. 

It is through the study of the Holocaust that our students and community learn about human behavior, social responsibility, moral courage, the importance of speaking out against intolerance, and the difference just one person can make.

Julia, Mena, Mara, Maya, Stella, Rachel, and the other winners will be presented with prizes and recognition for winning entries at an awards ceremony in Seattle on June 11.

"Good things grow from horse manure"

Sam Mitsui brought an uncomfortable, but very important, part of United States history alive when he came to speak to our eighth grade class at Lake Washington Girls Middle School last week. Anytime someone can speak from personal experience, history becomes more meaningful and more relevant. We were lucky that Mr. Mitsui, a second generation Japanese American, a Nisei, who grew up in the Pacific Northwest during World War II, could do that for our class. 

Mr. Mitsui relayed his life experiences as a young boy in Skykomish WA, doing well in school with lots of friends, playing on the school basketball team, and proudly identifying as a citizen of the United States. Those are things we can all relate to, but that is where the similarities stopped. Once the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, his life changed as did the lives of 120,000 Nisei and Issei living on the West Coast. In that instant, they became pariahs in their communities, even though they had done nothing wrong. The war hysteria coupled with racism and fear caused many of their friends to turn their backs on the Japanese Americans. Mr. Mitsui remembers just one person in his community who publicly stood up for him. His basketball coach. 

When President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, the Japanese community’s fate was sealed. All Nisei and Issei were sent to one of ten concentration camps scattered throughout the western United States. Mr. Mitsui was sent with his family to Tule Lake in Northern California. He told us a little of what life was like in the camp: grim, with very intense weather. It was either very cold or very hot, and extremely boring. Some of the families had to go to temporary camps and sleep in horse stalls. He also told a story of a son telling his father that the stalls weren’t clean and smelled of horse manure. His father told him, “Remember, son, a lot of good things grow from horse manure.” Which as it turns out, was eventually true.

The Nisei decided that the only way out of the camps was to prove their loyalty to the United States. So, they offered to serve in the US Army. Finally in 1943 they were permitted to serve. Nearly 5000 Nisei from Hawaii and from the camps volunteered to serve in the 442nd regiment. And they became the most decorated regiment in history. In addition, 6000 Nisei served in the secret Military Intelligence service, and were credited with shortening the length of war by two years! 

Finally in 1988, forty-six years later, the story about the value of horse manure began to ring true when President Reagan signed a letter of apology for putting our American citizens, 120,000 Nisei and Issei into internment camps. In 2000, a National Japanese American Monument was dedicated in Washington D.C., in 2001 the Federal Courthouse was named in honor of a Nisei veteran, and in 2002 the Medical/Dental Center in Fort Lewis was named in honor of another Nisei veteran. Mr. Mitsui talked about how “we had come full circle” when the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association invited the Nisei Veterans Committee to attend their Memorial Service in 2003. He was hesitant to attend, but was amazed and relieved to be welcomed with open arms.  

Because Mr. Mitsui shared his personal experiences with us, we now have an even deeper understanding of what Japanese and Japanese-Americans experienced. The conviction that states the importance of never disrespecting a person for the color of her skin, religion, or sexual orientation was branded even more deeply into our minds and hearts. Like he reminded us, everyone is human and just wants to love and be loved.

Thank you, Mr. Mitsui.

--MengMeng '14