Alabama Church Bombing namesake school teaches students about social justice, equity on West Side

ByYukare Nakyama WLS logo
Sunday, September 27, 2020
'We want peace': Kindergartners learn about equity and social justice at West Side school
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Carole Robertson Center, named after one of the Alabama Church Bombing victims, is teaching students about the importance of social justice in North Lawndale.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Students at the Carole Robertson Center in the North Lawndale community are learning about the importance of social justice and equity by their school's namesake, a victim of the Alabama Church Bombing. It's a course an educator said is timely during months of social justice protests all over the country.

It's a legacy stained by racism and violence, the school's instructors say. Robertson was just 14 years old when she and three other girls were killed in the Alabama Church Bombing in September of 1963.

"Last week we spent time talking with all the students, reminding them of who she was and asking them what she means to them and how her legacy can help them make the world a better place," said Kenny Riley, Carole Robertson Center's programming director.

Students as young as five years old, both Black and Brown, learn of the tragedy through art and discussion.

The kindergartners in Ms. Candice's class are learning to challenge inequities with peace.

"That's what we carry around every day. When they see each other fighting or not getting along, you'll hear someone holler, 'we need peace in the classroom; that means no fighting,'" said Candice Washington, a teacher at Carole Robertson Center.

Kindergartners to 8th graders learn about the Alabama Church Bombing each year, but Ms. Candice said this year, learning about social justice carries a lot more weight because of the social justice protests that have been happening all over the country.

"They see it on the news, their parents talk about it and we come back and we say 'hey, how can we make this work' and they'll say 'we create peace, we create peace,'" said Ms. Candice.

The kindergarten teacher said it's important to teach these historical moments to students from a young age while students are at the height of their social-emotional development to instill kindness and empathy.

Ms. Candice implores other educators to do the same.