Bringing the Past to the Future

by Paul Chilvers, Lead Teacher 3-5 Grade

Black History Month (February) has taken many forms for me and the kids at FYCC over the years, but this year was my favorite.
One of my favorite people in the world, Joyce Hayes, agreed to come in and chat with the children about her experience in the world.  I love Joyce.  I love the way she laughs, and loves, and includes everyone around her in the joy.

I was going to “Interview” Joyce, but I had only three questions.  Number one was “What was life like before the Civil Rights Act of 1964?” In preparation for this, I asked every child to imagine a world where everyone with the letter “J” in their name had to do extra homework, but everyone without the letter “J” was allowed to play all day long.  The indignant cries set the right mood as Joyce told her story.

She told of the pain she felt as a young girl upon learning that she and her loved ones were being treated differently.  She told of needing police protection to volunteer in an environment hostile to her color.
My second question was “What did you do about it?” She told of her young awareness of the freedom riders, and picketing Woolworth’s in Chicago.  (During this time, I was showing the children images of picketers, and making it a multimedia presentation.)

My final question was simply “Is there anything which you think STILL needs to be done?” Here is what she said, “I don’t want a ‘Kum-Ba Ya’ you, it IS a struggle, but it is really worth it to take the time to understand each other.  I believe in love.  We need to understand OURSELVES, and be loving of ourselves when we have thoughts of hate and separation.  We need to know that it takes education.  We need to learn as much as we can about the other guy. We can take pride in each other’s differences, and learn from each other.  We’re not just going to all of a sudden love each other, but through tolerance and experience, we can become friends.”

I am very lucky to be able to call Joyce my friend.  I feel honored to be able to bring her words to my kids.  I am GLIDE.