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Black-history classes reveal proud heritage

The children already knew some facts about black Americans. They knew, for instance, that George Washington Carver invented more than 300 uses for the peanut.

They knew about Charles R. Drew, who invented the process to separate blood plasma.

And they knew a lot about Dr. Martin Luther King.

"He was making it fair between white and black people," Quatavia Armstrong said.

"In 1968, he went to Tennessee, and that's where he got killed," Syanika Porter said.

"He was a deacon, and he had a dream black children and white children should go to school together," Shaneka Young said.

"He also won the Nobel prize," Michael McNealy said.

Ruby Perryman hopes those bits of knowledge are just the beginning for the 8- to 12-year-olds she gathers for her black history class each Thursday afternoon at the Enoch Davis Center.

"I feel that children don't know enough about their culture," Mrs. Perryman said. "When I was in school, they didn't teach black history."

During Thursday's class, the children talked about Thurgood Marshall, the first black Supreme Court Justice; about Ralph Bunch, the first black person to win the Nobel Peace Prize; about Brig. Gen. Benjamin O. Davis Sr., the first black American general; about musician Duke Ellington; and about Harriett Tubman, the most famous leader of the Underground Railroad.

The children drew pictures of Africa on the front of the folders they made. Some colored them red, green and black, the African nationalist colors.

"I want to tell you what the colors mean," Dorian Walker said. "Red is blood; green is jungles and black is black people."

Each week, they will put pictures and stories about famous black Americans inside the folder. This week's assignment is to learn all they can about W.E.B. Du Bois, founder of the NAACP.

"Black people have done a lot of things they should be proud of," Mrs. Perryman said.