In the forty-five years since he visited Mississippi as a Lincoln University student, Ron Walker was pleased to find students taking control of their own learning and documenting their own history.
Ron Walker visited the McComb School District in Mississippi in his role as executive director of the Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color (COSEBOC), While there in late February of 2013, he met students involved in the Civil Rights Movement and Labor History Initiative funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
The students provided presentations about their work including the film they had made on local voting rights history, their National History Day entries, their study of local history in the junior and senior high school, and the conference they led on voting rights, and more.
During the course of their presentations they mentioned that they use the Question Formulation Technique, a strategy they and their teachers learned from the Right Question Institute. The strategy turns the table on traditional classrooms, encouraging students to pursue learning based on their own questions, rather than teacher generated questions. This approach connects with the McComb students’ study of the 1960s Freedom Schools, which had the practice of asking questions about society embedded throughout the curriculum.
Walker was pleasantly surprised since he is a former board member and ongoing ally of the Right Question Institute (RQI). Walker told his RQI colleagues that the staff in McComb were ecstatic about how effective the Question Formulation Technique has been. He added, “I could see it in action. I am so pleased that the work has taken root and has proven so successful.”
Walker has visited schools and youth programs all over the country and has very high standards for the educational opportunities for children, in particular African American boys. So, the McComb Legacies Project was very honored that Walker raved about the presentations. He said,
“I was impressed with the work in McComb from several vantages points.
First, as someone who went to Belzoni, Mississippi in 1966 as a college student. I recall vividly those tense times making our way to the Delta to distribute food to poor sharecroppers.
Then I return years later to see these brilliant students digging into their historical roots, making meaning and deeply understanding anew the importance of their history and the struggle of parents, relatives, and community members to lay a foundation of freedom and justice for generations to come.”
As as result of the visit, he invited four students in the McComb Legacies Project and their teacher to present the film on the history of the voting rights struggle at COSEBOC’s 7th Annual Gathering of Leaders. Convened in Chicago from April 25-27, the conference theme was “Young, Gifted and Literate: Boys and Young Men of Color Prepared for the Future.”
The 7th annual Gathering of Leaders showcased schools and the exemplary literacy practices that they employ as they prepare boys and young men of color for their place in society and the 21st century global community. The McComb Legacies Project students were proud to be included in that showcase and had the opportunity to from other school districts and programs.