Students in Charleston hear from an expert

When the experts come to the classroom, we listen!

Knowing where I come from will help me know where I am going. – DeQuan, Grade 9

In addition to the Ancestors Curriculum, we invite local experts to visit our partnering teachers’ classrooms to introduce students to topics related to genealogy research and untold histories.

Earlier this month, Ms. Avis Johnson’s students at R.B. Stall High School in North Charleston, S.C. were lucky to get a visit from Dr. Melissa Cooper, Assistant Professor at the University of South Carolina. With generous sponsorship from USC’s Institute for Southern Studies, this is Dr. Cooper’s second visit to Stall in support of Ancestors unKnown.

So why is she one of the students’ favorite guest lecturers? Dr. Cooper’s lessons come from both professional and personal experience. As a historian, she’s a specialist in the history of the African Diaspora and the cultural and intellectual history of Black Americans. And by no coincidence, she digs deep into her own heritage, including the stories of her ancestors and Gullah roots in South Carolina.

Dr. Cooper at R. B. Stall High School
Dr. Cooper at R. B. Stall High School

Dr. Cooper stressed that it’s a necessity for Ms. Johnson’s students to know their histories, and helped them prepare for oral history interviews. Since they’re just getting started with their family history projects, this message (or reminder) is right on time. According to Ms. Johnson, “Students were motivated and are ready to research!!!”

Students also shared their thoughts:

“Dr. Cooper helped me realize that I can see how similar my traits and maybe even dreams are to ancestors [who have] gone before me.” – Cameron, Grade 9

“I think knowing your past lets you see what your family traits and ideas were.” – Barshekie

 

This is a great start. We can’t wait to see the results of the students’ family history projects.

Thank you for your die hard support, Dr. Cooper!!

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