Black history face-off: Youth in Duluth program highlights heritage in quizThe question “Who on Dec. 1, 1955, refused to give her bus seat to a white man?” nearly caused a frenzy Friday in the gym of Historic Old Central High School, as members of the after-school program Youth of Duluth were participating in a Black History Month quiz face-off.
By: Jana Hollingsworth , Duluth News Tribune
The question “Who on Dec. 1, 1955, refused to give her bus seat to a white man?” nearly caused a frenzy Friday in the gym of Historic Old Central High School.
Members of the after-school program Youth of Duluth were participating in a Black History Month quiz face-off. The important question meant lots of kids with hands in the air, crowding around and ready to spout the
answer to Duluth school district integration specialist Allegra Henderson.
Students in the 43-member program spent two weeks preparing for the quiz, part of a larger celebration.
“We practiced every day before basketball,” said Eyreon Witherspoon, a Morgan Park Middle School seventh-grader.
Students, beginning with first grade and moving up, answered
everything correctly from the 44th president of the United States to the woman who led so many people out of slavery she was dubbed “Moses.”
“It’s good that they know their heritage; it’s mandatory,” said Duane Byrd, director of the Youth of Duluth program, which focuses on academics and basketball. “We are recognizing who you are and where you come from. You can only build on that and work toward these kids closing the achievement gap.”
The night included a benefit basketball game for the group played between Duluth fire and police departments and a meal of fried and barbecue chicken, mac and cheese and greens.
Byrd instructed the parents, students, school employees and community members assembled in the gym to stand in a circle and hold hands.
“This is Black History Month,” Byrd said, “And I see Caucasian, I see Asian, I see black and I see brown.”
Superintendent Bill Gronseth also spoke, noting the smiling faces as students, parents and tutors were recognized for their work by Byrd.
“It fills me with pride and joy to see our community come together and support our kids, teaching them skills about how we get along,” he said. “Right now in our community, we do see a spectrum between tolerance and intolerance. I wish that more people could be in this room with us to see what it’s supposed to look like.”
Piedmont Elementary fourth-grader Armon Freeman said it’s important for kids to learn about civil rights and black history.
“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. didn’t like the rules,” Freeman said. “He wanted everyone to be friends. That’s the reason why he’s dead. Black people had no advantage.”
If it weren’t for King, said Nettleton Elementary fifth-grader Rickiaya Terry, nodding to the celebration around her, “maybe all of this wouldn’t be happening.”