National Civil Rights Museum Organizes March to Support Education

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Museum invites high school students, their parents, teachers, and community supporters to advocate for education equity and responsibility during student march.

The National Civil Rights Museum invites high school students from across the city and county to participate in a Student Responsibility March planned for Saturday, April 20, at 10:00am. During a 1.5 mile march, beginning at City Hall and culminating with a program at the National Civil Rights Museum, hundreds of area high school students will declare that they are taking responsibility for receiving a quality education by pledging their intent to get to school and classes prepared and on time, focus and participate during class, take advantage of tutoring sessions and school-related extracurricular activities, etc.

“With scores of discussions and debates by others about securing a quality education for this nation's future leaders, the voices that have been missing most are those of students who have the most to lose,” notes Beverly Robertson, Museum President. “So many students understand the gravity of this important issue and the tremendous impact a quality education can have on their earning power, access to opportunity and socio-economic status. That’s why students from Memphis and Shelby County will march with parents, teachers and community supporters who are committed to being engaged educational advocates and activists. Although the march is a visible show of support for quality education, the real proof lies in the on-going responsibility that students take for their own education, whether in the classroom or the community.”

Since Fall 2012, the National Civil Rights Museum has served as a platform for discussing the disparities in access to quality education in America. Through its website and social media, the initiative has offered ideas on how teachers, parents, students and community members can become involved in helping students overcome achievement obstacles. In accordance with this platform, the museum is hosting the march, just prior to the start of Memphis City Schools’ testing period.

The purpose of this march – to allow high school students the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to receiving a quality education and to allow parents, teachers and community members the opportunity to support them in doing so – is so bold and significant that both Mayor A C Wharton and Mayor Mark Luttrell are proclaiming April 20th as “Student Responsibility Day.” Memphis City Schools Superintendent Dorsey Hopson is also pledging his support of the event by marching with the students on April 20th and encouraging high school students and teachers to participate in the march.

Student Responsibility March Schedule:
    8:30am    Teacher/Student Check-In, Registration – City Hall Mall
    9:30am    Pre-March Program
    10:00am    Student March to National Civil Rights Museum Courtyard
    11:30am    Post-March Program, Teacher/Student Check-Out – NCRM Courtyard

Students are encouraged to register in school groups. Public supporters may register online at civilrightsmuseum.org. Registration for the event is free and the deadline is April 8th.

Museum Director of Education and Interpretation, Barbara Andrews, stated, “The march is public evidence of the commitment of youth to receive and participate in obtaining a quality public education. A key component in the measurement of successful educational attainment for Memphis and Shelby County students is the students themselves. The march symbolizes a commitment by participants to do their part while they put their trust in the community at large and school administrators to do theirs.”

Many may recall, “On May 2, 1963, the children of Birmingham, Ala., flooded the city's streets – and the city's jail – to challenge segregation. With dogs and fire hoses, police tried to stop them. Yet, in ways their parents could not, the children prevailed, defying the police intimidation that long had plagued Birmingham's black community.” (From Teaching Tolerance Magazine, “Announcing The Children’s March,” Number 27, Spring 2005)

Likewise, “The Student Responsibility Day and March will not only allow students to realize how much of an impact they can have on their own education but how important it is to take responsibility for their own education. Youth in Memphis will especially appreciate this chance to have their voices heard,” said Kalemah Taalib-din, event student coordinator and Teens Who Engage Equity in Tennessee (TWEET) student advisory board member. Miss Taalib-din is a senior at Craigmont High School.

In addition to the march, high school students can enter a Facebook video contest in which they can submit a two-minute video on how they intend to take responsibility for receiving a quality education. Cash prizes will be awarded for first, second and third place videos. Video contest entry information is available at facebook.com/EdEquity. Deadline for the video contest is April 8th.

The museum is partnering with Memphis City Schools, MCS’ Student Envoys, Shelby County Schools, City of Memphis Ambassadors, Coalition for Effective Teaching, Bridges Voices, Stand for Children, Shepherding the Next Generation, and Teach for America.

Rain date for the march is April 27th. For more information on the march and the video contest, visit civilrightsmuseum.org.

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