During Bl-ack History Month, a first grade teacher from Virginia took the next level step to raise awareness of historically African American figures by dressing up as them every day. At the Creekside Elementary School in Suffolk, Virginia an unexpected technique made the way for interactive history impact classes when teacher Latoya McGriff’s notion was to offend the attention of her students, who are primarily bl-ack, nearly historical African American figures.
According to Good Morning America, McGriff said, “I decided to dress up for Bl-ack History Month so that the kids are actually seeing a live person from history.”
As per ABC News, “I just wanted to bring history alive for the kids.” Mary Jackson, NASA aeronautical engineer, Misty Copeland, American Ballet Theatre’s principal ballerina, and Barack Obama, former President are some of the great people Latoya McGriff came dressed as. According to McGriff, she believes that young students must learn more about historical figures they can identify with. McGriff also believes “there isn’t enough representation of the African American communities within history and wants to change that.”
She said, “It is important for the children to see that people who look like them have made contributions because it reassures them that they can, too … It’s hard to believe in something you don’t see.” McGriff said outfitting like bl-ack historically significant figures acts as a discussion beginning among students as her students ask a lot of questions regarding the person who she’s dressed up as each day. She explains about them and their contribution to the country as well as to the African American community.
Teacher McGriff has also been quite specific to keep in mind about historical figures from Virginia. For instance, Mary Jackson, the aeronautical engineer who was instrumental in developing the NASA Space Program. She was a mathematician and played a c-rucial role in delivering the first astronaut into orbit. Her contribution went under the radar despite her huge contributions to NASA. McGriff said, “Mary Jackson personally influenced me because of her struggle. She was known as a human-computer, yet she wasn’t even allowed in meetings because of the color of her skin and because she was a woman. Yet, she prevailed.”
Teacher McGriff not only restricted herself to just historical figures but also respected historically colleges and universities, HBCUs, and Bl-ack Greek letter organizations. She shared, “[Learning about these organizations] gives children something to look up to, and they get excited about wanting to go to school and get to college.” She further said, “I hope that [the students] learn, no matter the circumstances, they can make a difference in this world. No matter where they come from, how they look, they can make a difference.”
She is also wishing other schools to take inspiration and start celebrating Bl-ack History Month and raise awareness about it. “I hope that [people who see the story] will implement some type of Bl-ack History Month program in their school,” said McGriff. “They don’t have to dress up as I did … but, I just want people to incorporate bl-ack history so that other students of color can see themselves represented in history.”
McGriff also dressed up as lesser known figures such as James Lafayette, a former slave who became a spy during the Revolutionary W-ar. One day she also came dressed as Dr. L.D. Britt was the first African American doctor in America to have an endowed chair in sur-gery. And on the other day, she came dressed as Thurgood Marshall, the Supreme Court’s first African American justice. According to demographic statistics, in Creekside Elementary School nearly 60% of the students are bl-ack with 25% of them being white.