Black History Month

Published February 27, 2021

Happy Black History Month!✌🏻✌🏼✌🏽✌🏾✌🏿

We hope everyone enjoyed the January edition!

We have an interview coming out on YouTube! Recently, we interviewed Ms. Ebony Thomas about Black history, being an African-American teacher and equity. Continue reading to find out more!

Thanks to readers who submitted for the writing contest! We can’t wait to see!!

Lastly, we would like to apologize for two mistakes that we made in the previous edition. Emma Craig, an interviewee, went to ESMOD in Lyon not Paris and the cover said January 2020 not 2021. We hope that did not cause any confusion!

-Leeya and Adalia

The Past and Present of the Oberlin Community: An Interview with Ms. Cheryl Williams

By Adalia and Leeya

“Historic Oberlin Village was a community of people that were very spiritual, they worked hard, they took care of their neighbors and they were able to use their skills to have a good life for their families.” ~ Cheryl Williams ~

For our February edition, we decided it would be neat to learn more about Black history in our hometown. Because Historic Oberlin Village is so close to our neighborhood, it was a perfect opportunity for us to learn some new things and grow our understanding of communities around us. We decided to interview Ms. Cheryl Williams, a resident of the Village to find answers to our questions.

A History of Oberlin Village

Oberlin Village was one of only four villages that were started by freedmen. 11 others were founded by the newly freed people from plantations around North Carolina. Today Historic Oberlin Village is one of only two that still hold historical sites.

Oberlin Village was settled by several free families. Jessie Pettiford, a farmer, had bought about 16 acres of land from the Cameron Mordecai family before the Emancipation Proclamation proclaimed the enslaved people as free. After the Proclamation, many moved to the Oberlin area so they could buy property to build homes, churches and even a school.

The Oberlin school, which once stood where an InterAct is now was a place to educate the children of the growing community of skilled artisans, masons, carpenters, ironworkers, preachers and even a midwife! Behind  InterAct is the Historic Oberlin Cemetery, which holds an enormous amount of history.

The Effects of Segregation

Like the rest of America, during the reconstruction and segregation eras, Jim Crow laws warped the rights and opportunities of BIPOC (Black Indigenious People of Color) citizens. Laws prevented them from their rights any American citizens should have. This caused many people to leave the Raleigh area seeking a better opportunity for themselves and their family. Oberlin Village was one of the communities people could build their own businesses, where they could start their own schools and churches.

The Historic Oberlin Cemetery

The Historic Oberlin Cemetery is three acres large and holds what Ms. Williams estimates to be around 645 people. Friends of Oberlin Village with Ms. Williams as the steward of the cemetery helps to take care of it. Three times a year, additional volunteers will gather to clean the area up.

April 17th from 9:00 to 12:00 will be the next clean up event!

For the cemetery, there are several restoration efforts Ms. Williams is helping with and leading. The group is trying to preserve the trees in the cemetery as well as fix up the tombstones. In addition, they are working on a genealogy project that aims to learn more about the connection of people buried in the cemetery. Who is whose parent or child? How are individuals buried there related?

How can we help with these restoration efforts?

Help is always appreciated and Ms. Williams had several ideas for us to share. People can ALWAYS help out on volunteering days, such as the cemetery clean-up day. Smaller help may include technology help. Ms. Williams said, “If people are good with the computer, research or grant writing, we can always use help with stuff like that!”

The Changes of the Village

Lately, as the value of money and land has begun to change, the community of Oberlin is being ‘forced’ to change with it. Originally, Oberlin Village was a mostly African-American village; today it is becoming much less mixed. This is because development in Raleigh has been buying homes and properties to build bigger buildings, residences and businesses. Today, you could spend half a million dollars to buy a property in Oberlin, while 30 years ago, it would’ve only cost $55,000-$65,000.

What do these changes mean?

These changes in money are affecting who can afford to live in Historic Oberlin Village. Ms. Williams was telling us that people have had to sell their homes as the property taxes have increased, just so they can continue to have a good living.

As we continued talking, Ms. Williams mentioned how “not everyone has that equal opportunity”.  It is saddening to see that people “are willing to fight and hurt others in order to get their way.” When inequities like this show themselves, it creates anger. Why should someone lose opportunities to be the best and reach the most goals they can simply because their skin is a different color or they feel love for a different gender?

What did we take away from our conversation?

Our conversation with Ms. Williams was enlightening not only because of what we learned about Historic Oberlin Village but also because of what we learned about the segregation era and the inequities and inequalities that go on in the world today. The biggest takeaway of all was that everyone, everyone should be given opportunity, even if it means we need to help some more than others. Even if it means some need a bigger chair to stand on than someone next to them.

Go to to find out how you can help and learn more about the Oberlin Village. There are some WONDERFUL resources, such as videos and articles, on this website!! Search for ‘FriendsofOberlinVillage’ on Facebook or Instagram to find out more about the community. During February, there have been some really neat history tidbits posted on the Instagram page!

Don’t forget to visit our YouTube channel to watch the premiere of our interview with Ms. Ebony Thomas about Black history and being a teacher! The premiere will start at 2:00 on Sunday the 28th. Go to: to watch.

Tech Tips: Scanning a QR Code

Despite how confusing a QR Code may look, the instructions for scanning one are simple. When scanning you DO NOT need an app. You just want to make sure you have a phone and you trust the QR code you will be scanning!

  1. Hover the camera over the QR code, but DO NOT take a picture.
  2. A notification should appear leading you to Safari, Firefox or Google Chrome
  3. When you open it you’ll find a website

Life’s Perspectives: An Interview with Ms. McCormick on Life’s Journey as an African-American

What is your name? Ms. McCormick

When were you born? I was born in 1938.

Where did you grow up? Bladen County, North Carolina. I now live in St. Paul’s.

Tell us about your childhood. I went to two-room school where I had to walk four miles to school (there and back). I could only take the bus when I was nine years old. I wasn’t allowed to go by myself, so I had to go with other children. Despite my father’s warning, I went by myself one day and I got bit by a dog. My dad did not have a car; instead, we traveled in a wagon pulled by a mule. 

Tell us about your family. My father was a sharecropper. He worked on a farm owned by a white man. But, it wasn’t just the Blacks working. The whites and the Blacks, both, would work.

Tell us about a historical moment in your life. I remember when Barack Obama was elected. My family and I were so excited that he won the election!

Do you remember anything about segregation? I worked at a restaurant in the part where the food was prepared. I didn’t realize they didn’t serve Black people and didn’t really realize the real difference between Blacks and white until I was an adult. I never went out to eat, we were always at home. It wasn’t until integration that I even went to a restaurant!

Of Golden Hair

A painting by Adalia

A and L’s Favorite Black History Books, Movies and Inspiring Quotes

Black history is a very important part of American history so we decided to look at some books, movies and quotes related to Black history to learn more!

Book Reviews

Featured: Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

Jane McKeene is a Black girl, born when dead Civil War soldiers, or Shamblers, have begun to rise up. The Negro and Native Reeducation Act says that all children of color are required to go to combat schools to learn how to get rid of the Shamblers. Jane has left her childhood home at Rose Hill in Kentucky and the mistress, who happens to be Jane’s momma, to go to Miss Preston’s school and learn to become an Attendant. An Attendant is someone who will go on to be a white lady’s servant and protector. But things begin to change when families in nearby Baltimore disappear and Jane is caught in the traps of white men, angry that people of color are being treated as equals. Who can she no longer trust and who will she have to start trusting? Read Dread Nation to find out!

Featured: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Starr Carter lives in two worlds and the shooting of a childhood friend, unarmed and unaggressive will tip both of her world into one another. People are trying to alter the true story; Starr is being threatened by a variety of people and saying the right thing is like walking on the edge of a knife. How will Starr find the justice Khalil deserves while preserving her own life? Read The Hate U Give to learn more about the Black Lives Matter Movement, justice and navigating a biased-world.

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

The world was once filled with magic, until one night when the merciless and cruel king of Orïsha ordered the maji tribes killed and magic to be destroyed forever. Zélie Adebola remembers this moment clearly…her mother, a Reaper, was murdered in front of young Zélie’s very eyes. Since then, however, life has not gotten better. In fact, if anything, the torture the maji are being put through seems to grow everyday. But one day, Zélie, her brother, Tzain, and none other than the princess of Orïsha, set off on a journey to restore magic. The plot of Children of Blood and Bone twists in amazing and unique ways as the trio fight their way to bring about a chance for the maji to fight on. Tomi Adeyemi brings elements of African culture, slavery and magic into one wonderous novel of a girl who is fighting to save her world and her people.

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas

A prequel to the Hate U Give, the ‘Concrete Rose’ is about Starr’s father (Maverick Carter). This story is riveting and shows the difficult truth of problems in different communities. Maverick Carter must take care of his family, but at what cost will it take him to do that. Will he have to drop out of school, join the nearby gang, or fulfill his real dreams?  Hopes, dreams, and legacies all come together in this amazing book by Angie Thomas.

Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Justyce McAllister is an honor student on his way to Yale…but he’s also Black. This is a very important factor in Dear Martin. Jus’s story begins as he is accused of assaulting his ex-girlfriend, who was drunk and struggling to get home. Soon after, he begins writing letters to Martin Luther King Jr. Though this is long after MLK Jr.’s time, writing helps Jus understand what is going on and what he can do about it. When two Black boys are killed due to police brutality, the debate team at Jus’s prodigious school begin a deep discussion on how race affects people, specifically Americans today. But Jus doesn’t agree with everything the white kids are saying…he has lived a different life then they have and knows that things aren’t equal and fair, despite what history seems to claim. A series of gut-wrenching events occur and Justyce must think on which path he wants he life to turn down and how he is going to achieve all of his goals and more. Nic Stone has put together an amazing novel, that shows readers exactly what is wrong with our justice system and what has yet to be fixed.

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave by Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass was born into slavery in a plantation in Maryland. Experiencing the brutality forced upon slaves was something no human or living thing should ever go through, yet Douglass, like so many enslaved Africans did experience this. The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass recounts some of these horrors as well as Douglass’s journey to free himself and educate himself.

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

Bri is a rapper…and plans to become the greatest one yet. As the daughter of a rap legend she has lots to achieve, but life isn’t as easy as ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ Bri’s family is struggling with bills and a job loss. Bri must fight for her dreams to achieve these goals she has set for herself. In life, there comes a certain desperation for being the best you, you can be. Bri will reach above and beyond this in On the Come Up!

Movie Reviews

Featured: Selma

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 legally desegregated the South; however, discrimination was still very existent, making it extremely difficult for Blacks to register to vote. In 1965, an Alabama city became the battleground in the fight for suffrage. Selma, an amazing historical drama, perfectly paints out the Montgomery March that occurred March 21–25, 1965. 

Featured: Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures is a brilliant documentary about three African-American women, Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, who helped the launch of John Glenn come to life. Without the help of these clever and intelligent women, who knows where we would have been left in the Space Race. Watch Hidden Figures to learn more about the hidden figures that brought astronaut dreams to life!


Joe Gardner is a band teacher for kids who just don’t share his passion for Jazz. Living in Manhattan can be tough, but when Joe trips and falls down an open manhole, his life takes a crazy turn. The Great Beyond and Great Before are wildly new places. Joe just wants to get back to his body but several things are in his way. He must become a mentor to the unborn soul, 22, find a way to escape a cat’s body and get back to Earth in time for his new gig. Along with some great music this movie has a new interpretation of why we are here and what everything means.

Mississippi Burning

Mississippi burning shows the extremely scary but true colors of the deep south in 1964. Based on the the murder of Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner and James Chaney in Philadelphia, East Mississippi, this movie will leave you with a new perception on what African-Americans went through then. Please note this movie is rated R and most likely not suitable for children under 10.

Inspiring Quotes

“Hate has caused a lot of problems in the world but it has not solved one yet.” – Maya Angelou

“A change is brought about because ordinary people do extraordinary things.” – Barack Obama

“You learn so much from taking chances, whether they work out of not. Either way, you can grow from the experience and become stronger and smarter.” – John Legend

“Surround yourself only with people who are going to take you higher.” – Oprah Winfrey

“If you want to fly, you have to give up the things that weigh you down.” – Toni Morrison

“My mother would say: ‘Kamala, you may be the first to do many things, but make sure you’re not the last.” – Kamala Harris

Fun Facts about the Civil Rights Era

Martin Luther King Jr.’s Improvisation on “I Have a Dream”

Martin Luther King Jr. had been working on his speech that would become the famous “I Have a Dream” speech with his advisors in the lobby of the Willard Hotel. There wasn’t even one mention of ‘dreams’ in the original version. When Dr. King mentioned the line: “we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream,” an idea sparked; he would give something like a sermon instead. Mahalia Jackson, a singer, kept saying, “tell ‘em about the dream, Martin.” This was likely the inspiration needed for the Baptist preach to specify his dreams…“Even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream….”

Claudette Colvin: Before Rosa Parks

When you think of the Montgomery bus boycotts, who do you think of? It’s probably Rosa Parks…But she wasn’t actually the first to refuse to give up her seat. Months before Rosa Parks would begin anything, Claudette Colvin, a 15 year-old girl, would act. Inspired by Black leaders, such as Harriet Tubman, Claudette wanted to challenge the idea of segregation. But her actions sent her to jail, where she would oppose segregation laws along with four other women in court. You might be thinking, why haven’t we heard more about figures who did things like these during the Civil Rights Movement? Well, Black organizations, like the NAACP, believed Rosa Parks, a woman, not teenager would represent things better. Because she was the secretary of the NAACP, she was well-known and respected and would bring in more support. In addition, because of her light skin, Rosa Parks was likely to make a bigger impact on the police or law enforcement if they came to arrest her.

In addition to Claudette Colvin, many other young people, more than half of them women, fought for their rights.

Fun Fact Citations:

Virtual Voyages with A and L

Kingsley Plantation

  • Kingsley Plantation is a National Park and former plantation located in Jacksonville, Florida.
  • During the time period when the plantation was established many people were coming to Florida seeking fortunes through slave labor.
  • The name ‘Kingsley’ comes from Zaphaniah Kingsley, one of the owners of the plantation, between 1814 and 1837.
  • Enslaved people lived in what were originally 32 tabby cabins. Now, only 25 of the “houses” remain.
  • Many things were grown at Kingsley Plantation. Sea Island Cotton was the main cash crop and because of it’s long and delicate fibers had to be worked COMPLETELY by hand! Indigo was another important crop.

Fort Macon: A Civil War Fort

  • Fort Macon is located at the tip of Atlantic Beach
  • Fort Macon is one of the most well preserved Civil War forts in North Carolina!
  • Fort Macon was built here because Beaufort (the town an island over from Fort Macon) was a place, highly susceptible to an attack (it had been attacked by the Spanish and eventually the British forced America to need a stronger defense)
  • Fort Macon was a Civil War fort
  • Fort Macon went from Confederate to Union control as the land was fought over
  • The Confederates wouldn’t give up their fort until extensive damage was done on the building under Union control, Fort Macon and Beaufort Harbor become an important repair station for the navy

We Aren’t the Only Ones Hurting

Poem by Adalia

There be hurt and starving,

All over everywhere,

It’s not just their problem,

It’s mine!

It’s yours!

We got a problem here,

That needs fixing!

We have a problem here,

That’s hurting me and you!


I’m calling you,


It’s your family here,


Are you happy with all the hurting?

I may be blue and purple,

And you be green and white,

But we live together,

That’s what matters!

I didn’t come to tell you,

“I’m different,

You’re different,

We gotta be different!”

I came to tell you,

“I love,

You live,

And we both got a heart!”

Imagine your Mama,

With a crown of rainbows,

She always knows the truth!

So, think…

What would she say?

Would your Mama be smiling?

Or would she tell you,

That “this world isn’t perfect,

So you better step up and try!

We all got bias,

But we better fix it up real quick!!


I’m calling you,


It’s your family here,


Are you happy with all the hurting?