The Business and Technology Complex of the McComb School District erupted with summer musings and anxious anticipation as students convened in August for the McComb Legacies 2012-13 after school sessions. Some twenty plus students have joined this afterschool program designed to research the voting rights struggle in Pike County, following on the research they began in an institute this summer. They meet twice a week.
The students are examining the events in historical context, tracing the groundwork for the modern Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s back to the Reconstruction era. They are using role plays, primary document analysis, question focus technique, and field trips.
The next step will be to identify ways to share what they have learned. So far the students are planning to update the McComb Legacies website, plan and host walking tours of historic downtown McComb, and prepare entries to showcase the history at forums such as National History Day. The National History Day competition accepts a variety of formats including creative (original) performance, documentary, research paper, website, or exhibit. (Last year McComb students won a number of awards at the state level and traveled to DC for the national competition.)
The afterschool sessions are facilitated by McComb Business and Technology Complex digital media instructor Falana McDaniel. Jacqueline Martin and Gloria Stubbs are offering assistance on the plans for the walking tours.
The students are drawing on a wealth of resources including a collection of books on Mississippi civil rights movement history, interviews conducted in McComb by the high school Local Culture class, history they have learned in their 8th grade U.S. history and Local Culture classes in McComb, field trips, and primary documents. The students want to conduct more interviews to fill key gaps in the history and uncover additional hidden stories in the local community. Their first step will be to consult with the McComb School-Community Local History Advisory Committee on a list of potential interviewees. That way the students not only learn the technical aspects of oral history collection, they also learn that historians have a responsibility to consult with the community whose story is being told.
While the students in the McComb Legacies project learn seldom told stories of McComb’s past, they are also gaining new perspectives about southwest Mississippi and their own role in civic society today.