Teacher gives master class slavery lesson for Black History Month to sixth grade students
For Jovan Bradshaw, it was important that her students get the history of slavery right, so she took a creative measure to make that happen
A Mississippi teacher turned a Black History lesson into a love letter for her students when she gave them a different backstory about slavery on her brightly decorated classroom door, Yahoo reports.
Sixth grade Math teacher Jovan Bradshaw of Magnolia Middle School in Moss Point, Miss., decided to embellish her classroom door for Black History Month with a poignant message from author and the Rev. Nadine Drayton-Keen that said:
“Dear Students, they didn’t steal slaves. They stole scientists, doctors, architects, teachers, entrepreneurs, astronomers, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, etc., and made them slaves. Sincerely, your ancestors.”
The note went viral on Facebook, shared more than 100,000 times.
“Stay dropping knowledge,” Bradshaw wrote.
“It all started with this little boy in my class,” Bradshaw told WLOX. “We were talking and he said, ‘Slaves didn’t do much because they couldn’t read or write.’ He kinda caught me off guard. I said, ‘Baby, if I snatched you up and dropped you off in China or Germany or Africa even, you wouldn’t be able to read and write their language either. Does that make you useless or any less educated?’”
That teachable moment transpired into Bradshaw creating an important message for her students. She said she was first going to cover her daughter with a picture of a Black woman with natural hair until that stirring conversation with her student.
“His comment broke my heart, and I had to do something more,” she says. “It was like a lightbulb going off for him. He understood.”
“So many of our African-American students don’t know where they come from. All they are taught is slavery, the servitude side only. They need to know that we were great long before slavery. We built a country with our blood, sweat and tears, and the strength of our ancestors is why they can be great today. You have to see people who look like you contributing to society, and the African contribution is left out at school. I teach math, but I’m woke and I plan on waking up every student that comes through the halls of MMS,” she said to WLOX.
Bradshaw is a math teacher but says she infuses history into whatever lessons she can.
“I sneak it in whenever I can,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “I teach the whole person, not just one subject.”