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8th Grade Explores Civil Rights Through Day of Reflection

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

On the 50th anniversary of the often forgotten Orangeburg Massacre, the 8th graders spent the day in reflection as a culminating event of our study of the Civil Rights Movement and Harper Lee's novel To Kill a Mockingbird. 

The Day of Perspective: A Walk in Someone Else’s Shoes began with first-hand accounts from Reverend and Mrs. Simon Bouie sharing their experiences with coal-heated school houses, protest marches with Dr. King, and even an arrest here in Columbia that was eventually overturned in the U. S. Supreme Court (Bouie v. City of Columbia). 

Next, Columbia SC 63 and Historic Columbia provided the students an opportunity to interact with artifacts unique in SC during the 1960’s, such as a bus token and photographs. 

The day ended with assistant US Attorney Jay Richardson recounting his experiences prosecuting Dylan Roof, reminding everyone of the courageous decision made by the families of the Mother Emanuel Church to face hatred with forgiveness as we have all been taught. 

Students said of the event: “I never really knew SC played that much of a role in the Civil Rights Movement” and the day “gave me a new perspective of the world,” making some “hunger to learn more about my history.” 

Here's what students Brooklyn Moore, Kayla Barnes, and Savannah Smith wrote about the experience:

"On February 8th, the 8th graders participated in a “Day of Perspective” surrounding the Civil Rights Movement and racism. Throughout the day,  we interacted with different speakers and engaged in hands-on learning activities with our peers. For example, we split into groups and gave presentations concerning Civil Rights activists in South Carolina. In addition, in the library, around twenty different photographs taken at the height of the Civil Rights movement were spread out for all the students to reflect upon. We considered quotes, heard different songs, and made connections to our novel To Kill A Mockingbird and the cases covered in Civics.

We had many different guests from all over South Carolina come and speak to us. While some speakers were from  various education programs, we also were fortunate enough to hear first-hand accounts from Mr. and Mrs. Bouie, activists in the ‘60s. We also listened to Jay Richardson, U.S. Attorney, who was involved in the horror-filled prosecution of Dylann Roof. Everyone deserves to experience the feelings we felt in that room. Many of us were brought to tears.

Throughout the day, we learned the importance of courage, forgiveness,  and empathy. Courage because without it our nation would be a very different place than it is now. Forgiveness because it’s a form of healing and love. Empathy because it promotes understanding and unity. The overall lesson we learned is that hate doesn’t drown hate; only love and hope can do that."