|Dr. Karcheik Sims- Alvarado and Dr. Sarah Cook|
Historians make sure we don’t forget to remember. As I work on my Faith in Sweet Auburn project I am amazed by the hard work our local historians are doing. They are telling the story and bringing our ancestors back to life. Yesterday I attended Honoring the Herndon Legacy an Honors College presentation at Georgia State University. The students from the class of Dr. Karcheik Sims-Alvarado presented their research on one of Atlanta’s the greatest citizens, Mr. Alonzo Herndon. Dr. Sims-Alvarado’s class was HONORS 3260: Alonzo Herndon and the Business of Civil Rights. The students learned how Alonzo Herndon connected his business enterprise to the work of freedom. For Herndon it wasn’t all about money but rather it was about how his work could support the freedom of his people, his city and his country. The students did an outstanding job sharing their research findings and how this particular class had transformed them. These students weren’t history majors but they took this class and they were amazed by what they learned. They stepped out of their comfort zone and as result they learned something that will forever shape their lives and how they see Atlanta.
Dr. Sims-Alvarado had done what all of us who are teachers hope to do. We hope that our students will fully engage the subject matter, own it as their own and allow the work of education to inform and liberate. In this case we saw the power of quality teaching in action. Not only were the students exposed to great teaching but they were also in touch with local historians like Nasir Muhammad, Herman “Skip” Mason and living legends like Lonnie King, Roberta Phillips, Rev. C. T. Vivian and so many more. She brought the stories to life and the students talked as if they had come in contact with Alonzo Herndon and the period in history in which he lived. As a fellow professor I sat there in utter amazement. The power of contextual learning with innovative pedagogy, learning goals and outcomes was evidenced right before my eyes. I wanted to shout, “Now this is good teaching!”
The support that Dr. Sims-Alvarado has gotten from Dr. Sarah Cook, Associate Dean, has been outstanding. Dr. Cook is committed to the work of Dr. Sims-Alvarado and making sure we don’t forget our local history. This partnership inspired me and I am sure with the work of these two great scholars and so many more in our city we will not forget to remember. As I continue to work on my project I am continually inspired by the great people I meet along the way who are doing the work of making sure our city remembers the blood, sweat and tears those who came before us. We stand on their shoulders. Yesterday I was called to remember the Herndon Legacy. Who should you be remembering? Who paved the way for you to enjoy what you are enjoying today? What ancestors name should you yell out today and tell them thank you?
“If I thought that anything with which I was connected would always be small, I would not want to be in it.”
Alonzo F. Herndon