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Cartersville’s History with Black History Month

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Cartersville’s History with Black History Month

Zoe Terry, Writer

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Black History month — a month that celebrates  individuals who paved the way for future young Black boys and girls like me. During the month of February, we learn about all the good and bad things that have happened to African Americans throughout America’s history. For example, we learn that a black man, Garret Morgan, invented the stop light. Or that Vivien Thomas saved millions of lives by finding a cure for Blue Baby Syndrome, only to never receive the recognition he deserved. 

To help celebrate the successes of Black Americans, Mrs. Hyman’s students are decorating classroom doors all over the school,  highlighting influential African Americans from both the past and present. In so doing, kids gain knowledge about such individuals as musician Louis Armstrong or poet Langston Hughes, and scientist Vivien Thomas or inventor Garret Morgan. The decorated doors help send a message to future kids to never give up hope. They can become whatever they put their minds to, no matter their circumstances. In the immortal words of Martin Luther King, Jr: We can overcome.

It’s amazing to see the progress made in the course of 50 years. 

Cartersville, once filled with racial tension, is now home to an integrated high school with a widely diverse student population. Cartersville High School’s racial breakdown goes as follow: 54.7% white, 23.4% African American, and 16.5% Hispanic. 

The high school was not always so diverse, however. Prior to 1966, the community had segregated schools.

Summerhill School, located on Tennessee Street (where the old building still stands to this day), was the local school for Black children back then. The school allowed them the opportunity to make something of themselves. Many of the kids who attended Summerhill went on to become successful teachers, preachers, doctors and lawyers. One, Robert Benham, even became Georgia’s first African American Supreme Court Justice.

Laverta Morgan, a former student from Summerhill and long-time Cartersville resident said “I was going to school to be somebody… So, I didn’t mind coming to Summerhill in the cold and rain.”

Despite the opportunities Summerhill provided Black students, their education was still not equal to the white population’s. So, the fight for integration began. Cartersville was integrated in 1966, but it wasn’t until 1970 that integration was complete.  

We have opportunities that our grandparents could not have dreamed of 50 years ago. No one would have ever thought that a Black man from Illinois would become President. And that president served not one term, but two. And now we have multiple African American individuals running for public office in 2020. Most Ivy League student populations are 6-18% African American. We have a long way to go, but progress has been made.  

We as Americans need to be unified: Black, White, Asian, Latino. We need to rise above all the racism and bigotry and hate. We need to come together. Like I said in at the start of this article, Black History month is in no way supposed to be about what divides us. It is supposed to celebrate what can be accomplished if we all work together, to show all that Black Americans have contributed to society. 

There is still so much more progress that needs to be made in terms of social equality, whether the situation be immigration, gay marriage, or transgender rights. There is always more to be done. 

 

 

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