Week beginning 8.2.21 - Bonus Activities if you'd like to do a little more!

08/02/2021

 

We have decided to continue with our theme of children who grew up to change History and we have some more amazing, real-life heroes for you to explore this week. 

When we first learn about heroes, I think there is a danger we can forget some of the struggles they have overcome in order to become the people they are. Sometimes when we face struggles we can be tempted to give up because things seem too hard. It's at those moments  when we shouldn't give up and we should persevere when things are difficult because that's the time when we will learn how to become stronger men and women.  

Persevering through the challenge of lockdown and learning at home and being restricted by what we can do will make us stronger people. We might not realise that at the moment though. 

Ruby Bridges 

When she was 6, Ruby Bridges became the first African American student to attend a 'white school' in New Orleans in 1960. 

Ruby was born in Mississippi and was the oldest of 5 children. Her parents, Lucille and Albon Bridges were farmers and they moved their family to New Orleans when Ruby was 2, in search of better work opportunities. 

At that time, schools in New Orleans were segregated  - this means there were schools for black children taught by black teachers and schools for white children taught by white teachers; the schools were not allowed to mix by law. 

There were people who believed that black and white people should have equal rights and should be able to mix - to be integrated but the law prevented this. 

In 1960, Ruby passed an exam which proved her to be able  to compete academically with children at the all-white school. Her parents were undecided about whether to let Ruby attend an all-white school. On one hand she would get all the educational opportunities  that her parents had missed out on, but equally to allow their child to attend an all-white school would put Ruby in danger.  

In the end, Ruby's parents agreed  that she should attend the all-white school. On her first day at school Ruby (remember, she was just 6 years  old) and her mum were escorted to school by four federal marshals (see the photo). This was to keep them safe. Every day, for that year in school, Ruby was escorted to school by the marshals. She walked past crowds of white people screaming vicious and nasty abuse at her. Other white families removed their children at the school because Ruby was attending. 

Although Ruby was allowed to attend  the all-white school, she wasn't allowed to mix with other children there. All the teachers, except one, refused to teach Ruby. For her first year at school, Ruby was in a classroom on her own with the only teacher who would teach her - Barbara Henry. Ruby ate lunch alone and spent every playtime and lunchtime alone, unless her teacher would come and play with her. Ruby didn't miss a day of school that year. 

As a grown up, Ruby got to be reunited with Mrs  Henry and was able to thank her for that year when her teacher stood by her and believed in her regardless of the colour of her skin. 

In later years, other African-American children, inspired by Ruby's bravery, also attended the all-white school. Later on her four nieces would also go there. In 1999, as an adult, Ruby set up The Ruby Bridges Foundation which was to promote tolerance and create change through education. 

Click the link below to learn more:

Ruby Bridges info and quiz

"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young ... but be an example through your speech, your love and the way in which you behave towards others..."

This is a quote from the bible. How did Ruby refuse to let other people look down on her because she was young? Even though you are young, what can you do to stand up for what you believe is right? 

 

Nina Simone 

Nina Simone was born in 1933 and was an American singer, songwriter, pianist and civil rights activist. 

Nina was born as one of 8 children in a poor family in North Carolina; she began playing the piano when she was 3. Her first official performance was when she was 12 and was a concert held in a church hall.

Her parents were very proud and sat on the front row to watch her. Before the concert started, Nina's parents were forced to move to the back row in order to free up the front row seats for white people. Nina  refused  to play at the concert until her parents were moved back to the front row to watch her. (If this had happened to you  or your parents, how would you have felt?)

It was  this event that Nina Simone remembered when she grew up to be a famous musician and performer and a civil rights  activist. Lots of Nina Simone's music addressed  the racial injustices that she grew up with and, at times, these beliefs made her unpopular. She stuck by them though and stood up for what she believed in. 

Click the link below to hear one of Nina Simone's famous songs - 'Feeling Good'. What do you think she is singing about? 

Feeling Good

What talent do you have that you could use to promote a value that you strongly believe in? 

 

Katherine Johnson 

Katherine Johnson loved maths and, as a young child, counted everything! She grew up in West Virginia in the USA and was born in 1918. Katherine was one of the first 3 black people allowed to study at West Virginia University - before Katherine went there, the university wouldn't admit black people. 

As Katherine was so amazing at maths, she ended up working at NASA and was part of the Space Task Group. She had to work very hard at NASA as people would not always listen to her because she was a woman and because she was black. At NASA everything was segregated and Katherine had to use separate bathrooms and eating facilities to her white coworkers. She couldn't even make a drink in the same place as them! 

Whilst she worked at NASA, Katherine calculated  the flight path for the first space craft which put the first US astronaut in space in 1961. She also wrote a research paper on spacecraft with an engineer - it was the first time a woman had received credit as an author of research!  

In 1962 John Glenn became the first American to orbit Earth. Before he left the ground, he wanted to make sure the electronic computer had planned the flight correctly. As Katherine was so good at maths, he insisted that she check his spacecraft. Katherine was also part of the team which calculated where and when the rocket would be launched that sent the  first 3 men to the Moon. 

Even though people didn't always listen to Katherine, she had confidence in her own abilities and she used these to stand up for what she knew was the right thing. Click below to read a bit more about her. 

Katherine Johnson

What impact do you think Katherine Johnson has had on the world? Do you think people view her as an inspiration? Why?

 

James Forten 

James Forten was born a free man in Philadelphia. He joined the army when he was 14 and served on a ship called the Royal Lewis. As he grew up he became a sail maker and, in 1798, became the owner of the business. 

In these times in America it was common for business men to use slaves in their workforce because, if someone was a slave, you didn't need to pay them very much or anything at all! 

Forten didn't believe in using slaves for his work and he petitioned the American government to try to change the laws about slavery. He worked alongside William Lloyd Garrison who publicly spoke about the injustice and inhumanity of slavery. 

Forten ran his business without using slaves; he refused to sell supplies to ships who were involved or suspected to be involved with the slave trade. Forten proved that his business could still thrive without any involvement with slavery. 

James Forten had children and taught them the importance of freedom and eradicating (getting completely rid of) slavery. Three of his daughters went on to do their own work in getting rid of slavery; as a family they made a big impact on society and showed  others that slavery was not necessary. 

Some people think that Forten's work was a very early version of the Fair Trade industry. Buying products that are fairly traded means that the people who harvest or make the products are paid fairly for their work. Being paid fairly means that these people are able to make a living - to pay for food and somewhere to live for them and their families. 

What can you find out about Fair Trade at the link below. 

The Fair Trade story 

Fair Trade 

With Fair Trade you have the power to change the world every day. By making different shopping choices, we can all give farmers a better deal which means they can make their own decisions, control their futures and lead the dignified life everyone deserves. 

Do you  already buy any fair trade items? Could you swap any of  your usual purchases to buy fair trade options?

 

Desmond Tutu 

Desmond Tutu was born on October 7th 1931 in Klerksdorp in South Africa. His dad was a teacher. Desmond grew up in a South Africa where whites  and blacks had to live by different rules. 

In 1954, Desmond Tutu graduated from the University of South Africa and became a teacher - just like his dad! After a few years of teaching, Desmond went back to college and studied religion. In 1961 he became a priest in the Anglican Church and he taught religion in South Africa and Lesotho (another country in southern Africa). 

Between 1978 and 1985, Desmond Tutu led the South African Council of Churches. During this time he frequently made non-violent protests against apartheid  laws. The apartheid system made life hard for the blacks as they did not have the same rights as the whites. (This was the same system Nelson Mandela was also fighting against).

In 1986, Desmond Tutu became Archbishop - the top rank in the Anglican Church - of Cape Town in South Africa. He was the first black to hold this job. He also became the chancellor of the University of the Western Cape in South Africa and, all through, he continued  to protest about apartheid. 

Apartheid finally ended in the early 1990s. In 1995 Desmond Tutu led an investigation into the crimes of apartheid. He retired  in 1996 but still continued to teach. 

Desmond Tutu firmly believed that people, regardless of their colour, race, ethnic background or gender, should be treated equally. A famous quote of his is: 

"If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality." 

By this he means that if you have power to help someone, you should help them. If you have power to help but you do nothing, then you will not be part of the solution. 

Recently there have been lots of reports in the news about injustices for black people. Do you/we have power to help? What could we do with that power?