One of the most exciting things for a social studies teacher is when they get to meet the people that they are teaching about. Recently, our friends in Leon County had this very opportunity.
Guest Post by Peggy Renihan, FJCC Regional Programs Coordinator:
The Leon County Schools Civics Teachers were hosted by the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship, African American History Task Force, and the Florida Humanities Council at the FAMU Meek-Eaton Black Archives for a special Civics Learning Community Meeting on the Civil Rights Movement in Tallahassee. The enthusiastic group of professional educators were joined by several special guests, including the Director of the Black Archives, the Dean of the College of Education, several professors from the College of Education at FAMU, area ministers and Dr. Errol Wilson on behalf of the African American History Task Force.
The highlight of the evening was the keynote speaker, Rev. Dr. Henry M. Steele. He is the second son of the late Rev. Dr. and Mrs. C.K. Steele Sr. Dr. Steele is the former pastor of several churches in Alabama, Florida and Georgia. Steele was the first high school teenager in the country to accept jail rather than bail during the lunch counter sit-ins in Tallahassee, following in the footsteps of his father, who was himself a leading Civil Rights activist in Florida. Arrested at 16 at a demonstration, he worked on a chain gang while serving time in the Leon County jail.
In 1955, Rosa Parks set off this country’s first bus boycott of the civil rights movement. A few months later, the second major boycott got underway… in Tallahassee. There is now a Tallahassee-Leon County Civil Rights Heritage Walk. The memorial honors 50+ of Tallahassee's “foot soldiers” -- folks who took part in the 1956 bus boycott and, later, lunch counter sit-ins. Reverend Steele is one of those “foot soldiers”.
Every February the Leon County Schools Civics Teachers participate in an hour and a half experiential learning opportunity. We believe that field experiences in the community enhance and enrich their teaching. It was an honor and a pleasure to learn of Rev. Dr. Henry Steele's experience in our capital city. His honest and candid memory was refreshing. The teachers were able to take their experience with a "foot soldier" back into the classroom to relate it to their students.