For Joanne Wilson-Bell, the equal rights march on Clinton-Mendenhall Elementary School's playground was a poignant reminder of an era when her white classmates refused to hold her hand.
Remembering a childhood fighting for her own equality and justice, Wilson-Bell, 38, said she hopes to pass the importance of the civil rights movement and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s message on to another generation--specifically to the multicultural students in her fifth-grade classroom.
With signs and banners in hand, about 120 fifth-graders took to the school's playground Friday in a reenactment of a 1960s-era civil rights march organized by Wilson-Bell. The scene lacked fire hoses, police dogs or bystanders shouting racial slurs, but the 10- and 11-year-olds held hands and walked as they chanted and sang familiar words.
Fifth-graders at the school have been learning about King and civil rights as part of their lessons. The students learned about the importance of his hope that people be judged by their character rather than color.